Dish Network Loses 23,000 Net Pay-TV Subscribers – But Crushes Q1 Earnings Mark

Satellite TV company is currently embroiled in nasty carriage fee beef with Viacom

Last Updated: April 20, 2016 @ 4:44 PM

Dish Network may have lost 23,000 net pay-TV subscribers during first quarter of 2016, but shareholders will take its better-than-expected bottomline.

The satellite TV provider on Wednesday reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) of 84 cents — Wall Street thought Dish would come in at just 62 cents per share. That’s a nice surprise for stockholders to wake up to this morning.

Revenue was not as optimistic a story, as Dish just missed its $3.80 billion mark — unless you’re a particularly generous rounder of the company’s actual $3.79 billion sales figure.

Still, those holding DISH shares will take the tradeoff. After all, that top line was still up from 2015, as was its $389 million in profit.

Drilling down a bit more on the customer numbers, in Q1, Dish activated approximately 657,000 gross new pay-TV subscribers, down from 723,000 last year. In 2015, the company actually gained 35,000 on a net basis, which feels much better than the current loss we described at the beginning of this post.

All told, Dish closed its first quarter 2016 with 13.874 million pay-TV subscribers, compared to last year’s 14.013 million.

On the broadband end, Dish increased subs by 5,000 over the most-recent 90-day period.

DISH stock closed Tuesday at $47.32 per share, up 82 cents, or 1.76 percent. It continued an upward trend in after-hours trading. The regular U.S. markets will open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Dish is currently battling with Viacom over carriage fees, a nasty dispute where neither side wants to budge on pricing. Cable and satellite providers must pay content makers a certain fee to carry their programming. That becomes extra complicated when companies like Viacom push an entire bundle of channels together, some that are far better-rated than others. On Tuesday, Viacom resorted to running a crawl on its lineup ripping Dish to its own subscribers — a not uncommon but always awkward practice. The beef is nothing new to Dish — the satellite providers tend to count their pennies more than the traditional cable companies.

The satellite TV company’s brass will host a conference call for media analysts and reporters at Noon ET today.