Dish Network lost over half a million pay television subscribers in the first quarter of 2023, across its satellite subscriber base and SLING TV online customers. Television revenue was down to $2.97 billion for the quarter, compared to $3.17 billion for the same quarter the previous year. Net quarterly operating income from television was down to $675 million from $752 million.

The company ended the first quarter of 2023 with 9.20 million pay television subscribers, including 7.10 million dish TV satellite subscribers and 2.10 million Sling TV subscribers. Together, they were down by 550,000 in three months.

That compares to a total of 10.25 million television subscribers a year previously, of which 7.99 million were satellite and 2.52 million were for Sling TV, representing a decline of 11.2% and 6.7% respectively.

The loss of 318,000 satellite television subscribers in the first quarter was up on the 228,000 lost in the same quarter the previous year. The company attributes this to fewer new customers and a higher churn rate.

The loss of 234,000 Sling TV subscribers in the quarter was similar to the loss in the same quarter the previous year. The company says it continues to face increased competition from other online video services.

DISH Network video subscribers 2014-2022. Source: informitv Multiscreen Index; company reports.

Interestingly, Dish is still investing in its capacity for its direct broadcast by satellite business. It has entered into an agreement with Maxar to build what will be EchoStar 25, to be launched in 2026. The company has been aiming to add subscribers in rural America and as its fleet ages it needs to add capacity to continue to operate the service with appropriate backups within the latter half of this decade, partly for insurance purposes.

“We don’t think that the DBS business is going away,” explained the chairman, Charlie Ergen. “It’s still preferred choice for a lot of Americans in terms of an efficient way to watch TV and obviously, we’re able to add apps and things to the set-top-box for a seamless experience”.

While there is a lot of interest in what the company is doing in terms of mobile services, in which it has been making major investments, television currently contributes over three quarters of its revenue.