DirecTV Benefits From Dish’s Blackouts, Gains 149K Subscribers

After six months of losing subscribers, DirecTV bounced back in the last quarter, adding a net 149,000 customers for its satellite TV service. Why the sudden change in fortunes? It has a little something to do with Dish Network’s very public carriage disputes in recent months.

As you may recall, last fall Dish subscribers went without CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, TCM, HLN, CNN en Espanol, and Boomerang for about a month because the pay-TV provider wasn’t able to agree to a new contract with Turner. Of course, they have since made up and several Turner offerings are now part of Dish’s Sling TV streaming service.

Then in December, there was a very brief blackout of CBS on Dish, following months of very public feuding between the two, which had also been squaring off in court over Dish’s ad-skipping AutoHop DVR service. And though the CBS blackout ended after only a few hours, the resolution of the dispute was to basically strip away the entire point of AutoHop.

Perhaps the final straw for some customers was the most recent three-week blackout of Fox News on Dish, which lasted through the holiday season before a deal was reached.

In announcing the subscriber gain, DirecTV did not mention Dish by name but did acknowledge that “competitor programming disputes” did result in a benefit for the company.

DirecTV now has 20.35 million subscribers and is the second-largest pay-TV company behind Comcast. It’s currently waiting for regulators to sign off on its merger with AT&T. That deal would give DirecTV the much-needed capability to offer bundled broadband services that would finally allow it to compete directly with traditional cable providers, while AT&T would be more than doubling its pay-TV customer base.

[via Variety]