Dish Network: Lower Q2 Revs, Deals For T-Mobile/Sprint Wireless Spectrum

Dish Network -- which is poised to buy wireless 5G spectrum, part of a T-Mobile/Sprint merger -- posted declining second-quarter revenues and net income, as well as seeing more drops in pay TV video business subscribers.

Dish Network took a 7% fall in revenue to $3.2 billion, with net income sinking 26% to $340.6 million. Revenue was higher than analysts’ projections, while net income was lower.

Like many pay TV providers, Dish continued to lose pay TV subscribers, from both its satellite TV and its digital pay TV businesses.

Though it narrowed losses in the second quarter -- 31,000 subscribers versus about 151,000 in the second-quarter 2018 -- its six-month trend continues to show big declines: Dish’s total pay TV subscriber is down 7.4% (965,000 subscribers) to 12.03 million.

Over the period, the Dish Network had a net subscriber drop of 345,000, now totaling 9.5 million. Sling TV service grew with 55,000 net addition in subscribers, now totaling 2.5 million.

In the previous second-quarter 2018, Dish Network posted a loss of 377,000 subscribers; Sling TV adding 132,000 in that period. Dish continues to increase “subscriber acquisition advertising” -- up 20% to $126.8 million in the quarter. For the last six months, this advertising has been 12% higher to $233 million.

Looking at the second quarter 2019, Dish monthly revenue per customer inched up 1% to $86.34.

Before the release of its second-quarter earnings, Dish Network stock closed down 3% to $38.28.

The potential sale of the spectrum is a key piece of the T-Mobile/Sprint $26.5 billion deal in getting federal regulatory approval, assets Dish could eventually use to start its own wireless phone business -- competing with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile/Sprint.

Dish has agreed to acquire Sprint's nationwide 800 MHz spectrum for a total value of approximately $3.6 billion, which includes Sprint’s Boost Mobile business. It would make Dish the fourth-largest wireless provider in the U.S.

Next year, Dish has a federal deadline to build a wireless communication network or risk losing the license. Dish’s wireless phone business is expected, according to reports, to be called “Sling Wireless” -- riffing off its Sling TV business, a digital OTT live, linear TV network service.

Kannan Venkateshwar, media analyst at Barclays Capital, is cautious about Dish’s expansion from a pay TV provider to mobile phone business. “Dish needs to raise capital, come up with a product and go-to-market strategy and build a network in a very short period [June 2023].”

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