Dish Network is America's #2 satellite broadcaster, but subscriber numbers have been slowly declining since 2011, falling to 9.9m for the main Dish service by the end of 2018 (from highs of over 14m five years earlier). It is the main rival to local leader DirecTV, now owned by AT&T with around 20.5m subscribers. The business was founded in 1996 as a subsidiary of EchoStar, a manufacturer of set-top boxes which had just launched its first broadcast satellite into orbit. It was spun out as a separate entity in 2008, although the two groups maintain common voting control and close trading links, not least in that EchoStar's satellites still deliver Dish services into US homes. The company has steadily broadened its range of services in recent years in an attempt to overtake traditional DirecTV, but with limited results. In 2011, for example, Dish Network acquired entertainment rental retailer Blockbuster, which had filed for bankruptcy the previous year. However it failed to turn that business around and Blockbuster was eventually shut down in 2013. Dish launched a satellite broadband service in 2012, and has also accumulated large amounts of wireless spectrum with which it had promised to launch its own national mobile service. To that end, Dish made opportunistic attempts in 2013 to interrupt the sale of mobile operator Sprint to Japanese company Softbank, and also to take control of Sprint's broadband subsidiary Clearwire. Both bids were rejected, and instead Dish now plans to use its bandwidth for the launch of a 5G internet of things service, launching in 2020. In 2019, it agreed to acquire Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and other prepaid services operated by Sprint, paving the way for that company's acquisition by T-Mobile USA. At the end of 2014, Dish also launched its own lower-priced "over the top" internet streaming service under the name Sling TV. This had attracted 2.4m users by the end of 2018, mainly at the expense of the main Dish service. Echostar's founder Charlie Ergen remains chairman of Dish Network and controlling shareholder with over 70% voting control of both Dish and EchoStar. He stepped down as CEO at the end of 2017 in favour of Erik Carlson, formerly COO. Dish Network's revenues peaked in 2015 at $15.2bn, but had slipped back to $13.6bn by 2018, with net income of $1.6bn.
Capsule checked 29th July 2019
Who handles advertising for Dish? Find out more from the Adbrands Account Assignments database
Advertising expenditure? See ranking of Declared Advertising Costs
Who are the competitors of Dish? Main competitor in satellite broadcasting is DirecTV. In the cable pay-TV sector, Dish competes with Comcast, Charter and Verizon's IPTV service. See Media Sector for others.
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Adbrands Daily Update 29th Jul 2019: It was a long, long time coming, but US federal regulators finally approved the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile USA. Talks between the two have been ongoing for at least five years. The crucial development this time was a deal to offload certain key assets into satellite TV provider Dish Network. That deal effectively sets up Dish as a new 4th mobile provider to replace the one being eliminated through merger. It will pay $1.4bn to acquire Sprint's Boost and Virgin Mobile prepaid services, with a combined total of around 9m customers, and will have access to the combined T-Mobile/Sprint wireless and retail network for at least seven years, while it builds its own 5G network. It will pay another $3.6bn in 2022 to buy additional spectrum from Sprint. Meanwhile, T-Mobile and Sprint will combine their other resources, creating a network of around 90m customers, closing the gap with AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile has promised not to raise its prices for three years and to roll-out a national 5G service by 2022. Despite federal approval, though, the separate lawsuit brought by 10 state attorneys-general is still ongoing, so the merger is not yet fully cleared.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Nov 2016: The addressable TV deal flagged up by Sir Martin Sorrell at WPP's 3Q results conference has finally materialised. The British marketing group has teamed up with AT&T's DirecTV and rival satellite broadcaster Dish to acquire Invidi Technologies, the developer of a system that allows advertisers to target different ads to different audiences during the same commercial break, based on demographic data or customer habits. AT&T will have a controlling interest but the business will operate independently under the three companies' collective ownership.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Feb 2016: US media companies continued to take a hammering from investors after another collection of disappointing results. Satellite broadcaster Dish Network reported a shock net loss for the final quarter as a result of impairments and additional wireless spectrum purchases. Total subscriber numbers slipped slightly to just below 13.9m, as broadband streaming service SlingTV's gains (to around 600k users) failed to offset the loss of traditional satellite customers. Revenues were up slightly at $15.1bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Jul 2015: Ads Of The Week: "Old TV Model". We shouldn't laugh at bullying but Camp & King's launch campaign for Sling TV, the streaming service from Dish Network, is irresistible. We also feel a bit sorry for all the chubby or ginger kids at casting agencies who got the call. "You got a job" "Great! What is it?" "School bully" "What!? Again?!?!"
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th June 2015: The Wall Street Journal breaks the news this morning that US satellite broadcaster Dish Network is in advanced talks to merge with T-Mobile USA, the part-public subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. Such a deal could at last offer Telekom the prospect of a clean exit from the American market. For Dish too it would offer a brighter future, as well as a solid response to rival DirecTV's purchase by AT&T. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has been seeking a path into the mobile sector for years. He owns substantial amounts of wireless spectrum but nothing at present to use it for. Under the structure currently being discussed, Ergen would remain chairman of the combined entity, with T-Mobile's John Legere as CEO. Financially, it would be a merger of equals, more or less, with Dish currently valued at $33bn and T-Mobile USA at $31bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Apr 2015: There was a clear warning this week to all would-be cable-cutters planning to abandon cable subscriptions for streaming services. Up to 2,000 customers of Dish Network's Sling TV web TV service suffered interruptions during last weekend's NCAA Final Four basketball play-offs. Dish apologised, and blamed the outages on "an unprecedented combination of new customer signups and high levels of viewership". Only a comparatively small number of customers were affected, but it was a salutary reminder of the potential fragility of web-based TV, compared to traditional TV or cable, if lots of people are all watching at the same time. The next big challenge comes this Sunday with HBO Now's season premiere of Game Of Thrones. The company has already begun to warn customers of potential buffering problems on its customer service page.
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