Dish misses revenue estimates as more subscribers ditch pay-TV

Mon Nov 9, 2015 3:13pm EST
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By Anya George Tharakan and Malathi Nayak

(Reuters) - Dish Network Corp (DISH.O: Quote) said its pay-TV subscriber losses accelerated and reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, reigniting questions around what the satellite-TV provider will do with its trove of wireless airwaves.

Dish shares were down 1.6 percent at $62.73 in afternoon trading on Monday after it reported a loss about 23,000 TV subscribers on a net basis in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of about 12,000 a year earlier. Dish's shares have fallen about 13 percent year-to-date.

As the pay-TV industry tackles subscriber drops, Dish has been trying to lure young viewers to its cheaper $20-per-month Sling TV online streaming service. Investors have been watching for any signs of what Dish chief executive Charlie Ergen plans to do with wireless airwaves or spectrum the company has spent billions stockpiling over the past few years.

Possible plans include a partnership with another wireless player or building or buying a wireless network.

"Charlie Ergen sits atop a crumbling Pay-TV provider with a very valuable spectrum asset ... but it's not clear who has the money to buy it from him," MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said in a research note.

Dish affiliates surrendered spectrum licenses worth $3.3 billion to the government last month after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission found they were ineligible for small-business discounts.

The FCC plans to re-auction those licenses after an auction of broadcast airwaves scheduled for early 2016. Dish plans to participate in the re-auction, Ergen said on an earnings call.

Dish has not yet decided whether or not it will participate in the broadcast auction, Ergen said.   Continued...

A Dish Network logo is seen on a satellite dish on a Brooklyn apartment building roof in New York June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  - RTX1F53G