Dish Network Beats Q3 Estimates And Bucks Downward Pay-TV Subscriber Trend

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Dish Network, whose core satellite TV business has been steadily declining of late, reported better-than-expected financial results in the third quarter, including a rare gain in pay-TV subscribers.

Earnings per share totaled 66 cents on a diluted basis, ahead of the forecast of 61 cents by Wall Street analysts, though they declined from 82 cents in the year-earlier quarter.

Total revenue slipped to a bit less than $3.2 billion from $3.4 billion in the third quarter of 2018, but even in decline it topped estimates.

Net pay-TV subscribers increased approximately 148,000 subscribers in the third quarter, compared to a decline of approximately 341,000 in the third quarter of 2018. The growth bucked a downward trend across the industry, including quarterly subscriber losses reported by satellite rival DirecTV and several top cable operators.The company closed the third quarter with 12.2 million total Pay-TV subscribers, including 9.5 million Dish TV subscribers and 2.7 million Sling TV subscribers.

Subscriber-related expenses dropped to $1.9 billion from $2.1 billion a year ago.

In pre-market trading Thursday, shares in Dish gained more than 8% on the upbeat quarterly report. They have risen more than 17% in 2019 to date.

While Dish is rooted in the satellite business, it has recently accumulated significant wireless spectrum holdings, including assets acquired in the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has vowed to build a nationally competitive wireless network, which will diversify the company’s revenue and provide counter-weight to the secular decline in traditional pay-TV. Unlike other pay-TV operators, Dish is unable to offer broadband, which has been a buffer for companies like AT&T, Comcast, Charter and others as their traditional TV bundle customer base diminishes.

Ergen and the Dish management team was scheduled to speak with Wall Street analysts about the quarterly numbers on a mid-day conference call.

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