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Is Cord Cutting Affecting DISH Network?

If you have been following the broadcasting space at all, you know that the cord-cutting movement has been taking major chunks of the market from traditional pay-TV services, and shows no signs of slowing up anytime soon. So what does that mean for traditional pay-TV providers like cable and satellite? For DISH Network, it means that as a company they need to pivot into more profitable business models like streaming and purchasing large amounts of spectrum, and that’s exactly what they are doing.

In fact, DISH’s billionaire CEO Charlie Ergen stepped aside last year to focus more of his time on building a 5G wireless infrastructure to utilize all those spectrum purchases before the FCC deadline of 2020.

Now, utilizing those spectrums does not necessarily mean that DISH Network itself has to build a 5G infrastructure, though the company does continue to maintain that that is their plan. In fact, DISH has said publicly that they have allocated $1 billion to spend on creating that 5G infrastructure over the next two years. Which means, if they stick to their proposed time table, they will have utilized their spectrum assets well before the FCC’s 2020 deadline.

Many analysts speculate that despite the companies comments to the contrary, that DISH is positioning itself for a merger or sale to a larger company that can then utilize their spectrum holdings as they see fit. However, potential suitors like Verizon seem to have options and other interests, which means it may be a bit of a gamble on DISH Network’s part if their only exit strategy is a merger or sale. Only time will tell what Ergen’s actual plan is.

So, yes, cord-cutting is affecting DISH Network’s traditional pay-TV subscription numbers, but, as it turns out, that may not matter. DISH is positioning itself away from pay-TV and more towards wireless spectrum holdings and streaming services.

It is worth noting that Sling TV, DISH’s streaming service, is continuing to grow according to the latest numbers. Their year end report showed that the Sling TV service boasts an impressive 2.212 million subscribers as of the end of 2017. Well above the estimated 2 million subscriber year end goal.

Of course, DISH’s most valuable asset is currently their extensive spectrum holdings. The future of the company entirely depends on what they do with those assets. One thing is for sure–the entire broadcast industry is watching.

Sources:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-21/dish-earnings-squeeze-makes-deal-clock-tick-louder
https://www.macrumors.com/2018/02/21/dish-reports-sling-tv-2-2m-subscribers/

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