- Mar 24, 2009
Yep, there's been a bit of revival in talk about a Dish-DTV merger even in the past few days in the wake of Dish's surprisingly bad Q1 sub losses they just reported for both satellite and Sling. On the call, Ergen was again asked about a potential merger with DTV and he reiterated his prior stance that it was "inevitable".Also, they would not want a deal like that on the books when they are trying to sell or merge, TPG Capital want their investment back and are pushing the merger with Dish.
I read a story a few months ago ( I need to find it again) that said DirecTV estimated they will lose about 1 million more subs because of the loss of ST, if that 1 million pay $150 a month each, that is $1.8 billion in a year, that less then the new deal for ST by $200-700 million.
Dish is now down to just under 8 million sat subs.
The last figure we had for all three DTV services (sat, Stream and Uverse TV) was 15.4 million as of 6/30/21. That quarter (2Q 21) was their least-bad in terms of total sub losses in years, *only* 473k. For the preceding year, they had lost a net 2.3 million subs across the three services. We can be reasonably sure that, since then, DTV Stream has gained subs while DTV sat and Uverse TV have continued to lose them.
I guesstimate that the sat service by itself was down to maybe about 12 million at 6/30/21 and will be down another 2 million, to just 10 million, by the end of this current quarter, 6/30/22. That's a rate of 500k per quarter. So, extending forward, we get 9 million DTV sat subs as of this year end, 12/31/21.
Consistent with what you're saying, I'd also guestimate that there's an extra 1 million DTV sat subs who stick around for NFLST, either because it's been the only place where they can buy it or because DTV has been giving it to them for free as an incentive to stay and that's enough reason not to dump DTV for something else. But that excuse will likely evaporate at the end of this year. So in 2023, maybe we see a loss not of another 2 million sat subs, but 3 million.
That gets us down to 6 million on DTV at the end of '23. If Dish, meanwhile, loses just about 200k per quarter on average going forward, that gets them down to around 6.5 million sat subs at the end of '23. Now, that may be an overly optimistic figure for Dish, though. They did report a surprisingly large loss of 228k sat subs in Q1. Hard to say if that's the start of a trend or an anomaly. I suspect that the incursion of T-Mo fixed wireless internet, Verizon fixed wireless internet, and the slow-but-steady expansion of wired coax and fiber networks into rural America are already beginning to hurt Dish, whose sub base indexes significantly more rural than does DTV's.
If Dish's sat sub losses do continue to tick upward this year, I think it's going to put Charlie Ergen in a more deal-making mood when talking to TPG. And equally important, as both services are able to point out a dwindling subscriber base to the government, it increases the likelihood of regulatory approval. Each subsequent quarter of significant Dish losses (which, unlike DTV, they cannot hide and must report to the public) will increase the pressure to get serious about structuring the inevitable deal. I think an announcement late this year (after the mid-term elections) is quite likely, even probable.