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    Dish Loses Record 413,000 TV Subscribers

    Alex Wong, Getty Images

    Dish Network on Thursday, May 7, announced that it lost a record 413,000 net TV subscribers in the first quarter of 2020, compared with a loss of 259,000 in 2019.

    Speaking about the quartly fall in subscribers base, the company says
    “The COVID-19 pandemic caused severe disruption in certain commercial segments served by Dish, including the hospitality and airline industries.”

    The latest quarter’s figure included the loss of 132,000 net Dish and approximately 281,000 net Sling TV subscribers, the company stated.

    In the first quarter of 2019, Dish, led by chairman Charlie Ergen and CEO Erik Carlson, has lost about 266,000 Dish subscribers and added about 7,000 Sling TV users.

    The latest quarter’s decrease in Sling subscribers was “primarily related to lower Sling TV subscriber activations, increased competition, including competition from other subscription video on-demand and live-linear OTT service providers, and delays and cancellations of sporting events as a result of COVID-19,” the firm said.

    About its pay TV customer trends, Dish said it activated approximately 299,000 gross new users, up from 243,000 in the year-ago period.

    It says that in the second half of March, “COVID-19 and the related governmental recommendations and/or mandates created reduced in-person selling opportunities, and a reduction in customers’ willingness to open direct mail marketing and allow in-home technicians into their homes.” As a result, “we reduced our marketing expenditures and our gross new DISH TV subscribers began to decrease,” Dish said. “We continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 and cannot predict with certainty the impact to our gross new Dish TV subscribers as a result of, among other things, higher unemployment and lower discretionary spending and reduced ability to perform our in-home service operations due to the impact of social distancing.”

    Dish added that the pandemic “caused severe disruption in certain commercial segments served by Dish, including the hospitality and airline industries.”

    To avoid charging commercial customers for services that were no longer being viewed by their customers, Dish said it paused service or provided temporary rate relief for certain commercial accounts.

    “Those commercial accounts, including accounts Dish expects to disconnect because of COVID-19 disruption, represent approximately 250,000 subscribers, which Dish removed from its ending pay TV subscriber count as of March 31,” it said.

    The company ended the first quarter with 11.32 million pay TV subscribers, including 9.01 million Dish TV subscribers and 2.31 million Sling TV subscribers.

    Dish added that it “does not expect to incur significant expenses from the reactivation of any returning commercial accounts.” It also explained that returning accounts will “not be counted as gross new subscriber additions in the period of their return.”

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