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Thousands of subscribers flee Dish Network for Netflix, Hulu

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Dish Network suffered its worst subscriber loss in history as hundreds of thousands of customers continued to flee to cheaper options like Netflix and Hulu.

The satellite-TV giant’s quarterly revenue fell 5 percent as it shed a net 367,000 satellite subscribers during the third quarter — far beyond a consensus estimate of 232,000 net customer losses, according to research firm FactSet.

Dish blamed half of its subscriber loss on a June 30 blackout in which Univision yanked content from both Dish and its Sling TV streaming-video service. The blackout stemmed from a bitter dispute over fees that provoked Dish to give antennas to its Univision-seeking subscribers so they could get the Spanish-language network’s signal for free.

This “bunny-ear solution,” as Macquarie analyst Amy Yong called it, may placate subscribers to Dish’s Latino package. But Univision and other recent blackouts had analyst Craig Moffett wondering whether the company wanted to stay a TV provider.

“They have one almost every quarter,” he wrote in a Wednesday note, citing standoffs with Sinclair, Fox, Viacom and AMC. “Dish seems to be signaling … they don’t really want to be in the video business anymore.”

In an earnings call, Dish CEO Charlie Ergen denounced the most recent blackout on Dish, in which AT&T pulled its HBO and Cinemax content on Nov. 1, as “purely an anti-competitive play” by AT&T.

HBO countered that Dish dropped HBO — not the other way around — and called Ergen’s claim “a silly but transparent attempt on Dish’s behalf to muddy the waters.”

Credit: NY Post

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