It appears Dish’s live TV streaming service, Sling TV, has been impacted by the increased competition from rivals like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and others. Sling TV still leads the market with 2.37 million subscribers for its TV service aimed at cord cutters, Dish reported in its Q3 2018 earnings, but its momentum is slowing.
That allows it to retain its first-place position, but that lead may not last much longer.
AT&T’s DirecTV Now had been catching up to Sling TV in recent months, leading some to believe it would surpass Sling TV by year-end.
Launched two years ago, DirecTV Now added 49,000 subscribers in its Q3, it reported in October — much worse than the 247,000 added last year, when the service was newer and promos were more plentiful. But its price hikes, technical issues and poor customer service have turned some customers off, leaving it still shy of 2 million subscribers by the end of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, newcomer Hulu with Live TV just topped a million subscribers in September — growth that may have come at the expense of Sling TV and others, it seems.
Sling TV’s slowing growth may not be all chalked up to the competitive landscape, either. Its price increases introduced this June may have also impacted sign-ups. And there’s the fact that streaming TV services simply may not ever see the sort of demand that subscription VOD offerings, like Netflix, do.
Sling TV’s too-small gains were only one blip in an otherwise dismal quarter for Dish, which saw its worst net subscriber losses to date thanks to the loss of satellite TV customers. The company dropped 367,000 satellite customers to end the quarter with 10.29 Dish TV subscribers. It also recently saw HBO and Cinemax removed from Dish and Sling TV lineups, due to a programming fight. That was the first time HBO had ever gone dark, too.
One thing that is clear from Dish’s earnings, and AT&T’s prior to this, is that the market for traditional pay TV is still in decline thanks to cord cutting — and the “TV” landscape in the future will look very different, as a result.