The cord-cutting trend continued to eat into DISH Network’s satellite-based pay-TV business in 2019, following the company’s recently reported fourth quarter earnings that showed total video subscriber churn over the course of the year.

DISH Network reported last week that combined satellite and streaming accounts dropped 2.7% from 12.3 million at the end of 2018 to 11.99 million at the end of the fourth quarter in 2019.

The number included the sum of the company’s total DISH satellite TV subscribers and its over-the-top virtual multichannel video program distributed (vMVPD) service Sling TV. Over the course of the year, DISH satellite subscribers fell 5% from 9.905 million subscribers to 9.394 million, while Sling TV viewers rose 2.4% from 2.417 million to 2.592 million.

Although DISH’s satellite TV business continued to see churn, the level is expected to be significantly lower than rival AT&T will show when it reports its numbers on January 29th. The DirecTV satellite TV operations and AT&T TV Now vMVPD service experienced quarter-to-quarter churn over much of the year as the company implemented price increases while discontinuing promotional activities.

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As for DISH, the Sling TV service is less vulnerable to price hikes from networks because it prefers to direct customers to over-the-air broadcast reception alternatives.

The company’s net income totaled $389 million for the fourth quarter 2019, compared to $337 million from the year-ago quarter.

Net pay-TV subscribers decreased by approximately 194,000 in the fourth quarter, compared to a net decrease of 334,000 in the year-ago quarter, the company reported.

For the year, DISH reported 2019 total revenue of $12.81 billion, compared to $13.62 billion in 2018. Net income attributable to DISH Network in 2019 was $1.40 billion, compared to $1.58 billion in 2018.

By Greg Tarr

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