Dish Network announced Friday a profit surge of 38 percent in their fourth quarter earnings. The satellite TV provider continues to add subscribers and generate more revenue per customer. Dish Network added 654,000 pay-TV customers during the last quarter, missing analysts projections by about 2 percent. The company was able to gain 80,000 broadband customers, but this numbers also trailing Wall Street estimates.
They were able to beat earnings per share (EPS) estimates reporting 63 cents per share well above Wall Street consensus of 41 cents. Dish had monthly revenues per pay-TV subscriber average $80.37 in 2013, a significant increase over the $76.98 revenue per customer generated in 2012.
Dish claims net activations of new TV subscribers in 2013 of 2.7 million, giving it a total customer figure of just over 14 million. Its nearest competitor in the satellite broadcasting market, DirecTV, is reported to have 20 million subscribers. Coverage of Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen also surged in recent days as he offered comments and insight on his firms recent profits and events affecting the television, content provider and broadband industries.
On the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Ergen commented that the deal would not have a positive impact on other pay-TV and broadband service providers. The deal would create a virtual monopoly in broadband, he continued, and have an unprecedented and unpredictable effect on the industry. The two cable companies announced plans to merge last week, which if the come to fruition, would create a cable behemoth that with over 30 million subscribers nationwide.
During a conference call on Friday Egan also added that his company does not yet have a position on the merger, which is still undergoing regulatory assessment for its potential effect on competition. Dish will present options to its board after reviewing the deal’s potential impact, said Ergen, and it is premature to say if Dish would formally oppose the merger.
Dish is looking closer at merger partners itself. The CEO obliquely referred to the most likely candidate, DirecTV, saying the Comcast Time Warner merge could shift the landscape so much that, “I would imagine, I won’t speak for DirecTV, but certainly, it makes us look at everything in a different light today.”
Ergen also made clear that his Douglas County-based company probably will not bid for T-Mobile against Sprint. This conflicted with previous reports that the company would not remain observers, but some believe the Comcast Time Warner deal eclipses this one – which would only impact Dish’s burgeoning data business – and so requires action to help Dish protect its core business which take precedence of wireless concerns.
Ergen was “cautiously optimistic” that Dish will successfully negotiating new terms in the currently expired contract with Disney, allowing them to carry ESPN and other Disney-owned networks, before the end of the next quarter.
Growth in profits is welcome news for Dish Network and their shareholders, but the surge in industry consolidation trends make this less a time for celebration than an opportunity to prepare for bigger challenges.