Revenue and earnings topped Wall Street expectations, reaching $4.53 billion and 86 cents a share, respectively. The company closed its acquisition of Boost Mobile in the quarter, tacking on 9 million retail mobile customers in a transaction stemming from the T-Mobile and Sprint merger. Regulators forced those telcos to sell off Boost, and Dish was a willing buyer as it had been amassing significant wireless spectrum assets in a bid to pivot away from its longtime roots in pay-TV.
Sling’s uptick offset a downturn of 87,000 subscribers to Dish’s satellite offering. The overall increase of 116,000 in the quarter was a slowdown from the rise of 148,000 in the year-ago quarter.
The company ended the quarter with 11.42 million total pay-TV subscribers — a shade less than 9 million in satellite and 2.46 million at Sling.
Rival AT&T reported a more downbeat pay-TV story in its third-quarter earnings report last month, indicating it lost 627,000 subscribers. Its AT&T TV Now service has declined markedly after seeing initial traction after it launched as DirecTV Now in 2016.
DirecTV, which AT&T acquired in 2015 for $49 billion, is in a state of transition. AT&T has reportedly been actively exploring a handoff of control of the division to private equity investors in order to rid its balance sheet of the subscriber declines and secular challenges. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has characterized a merger of Dish and DirecTV as “inevitable,” and the parties have held preliminary discussions. The Department of Justice last month reportedly reiterated its concerns about a potential combination.