Dish Network Pay TV Business Weakens, Satellite/Pay TV Revenue Down 1.5% in Q4

As Dish Network continues to seek steady, ongoing mobile phone business growth, its core satellite/virtual pay TV business continues to weaken -- down 1.5% in the fourth quarter 2021 to $3.3 billion.

Total pay TV subscribers -- Dish TV, its satellite pay TV business, and Sling TV, its internet-based pay TV service -- declined 5.2% to total 10.7 million.
Dish TV has 8.22 million subscribers (down 6.7%), while Sling TV has 2.49 million subscribers (down 0.5%).

Subscribers for its mobile and wireless business, under the Boost Mobile brand, declined 245,000 (down 8%), now totaling 8.55 million. Total wireless revenue is down 4.8% to $1.2 billion.

One bright spot is ARPU, the average revenue per unit, which was up 3.2% to $97.53.

Overall, Dish Network’s total revenue-- from all its businesses -- dropped 2.4% to $4.45 billion. Net income to Dish Network fell 25% to $552 million.

Craig Moffett, senior analyst at MoffettNathanson Research, says Dish’s long-standing effort to build out a big new 5G wireless network is still problematic: “Building a 5G O-RAN network will be incredibly costly, and building a business around that network will be more costly still, with years of start-up losses.”

In addition, prospects of a long-time potential merger of Dish with DirectTV continue to fade, says Moffett. One key metric is that Dish only posted 200,000 gross additions in the fourth quarter -- “the lowest in decades.”

“For those hoping for a merger with DirecTV, it is important to remember that it is gross additions, more than any other metric, that speak to synergy prospects... But with gross additions this low, there isn’t much synergy opportunity left here.”

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