Dish adds 28K subs in Q4, its first sub gain in nearly 3 years

Dish Network log
For all of 2016, Dish lost 226,000 customers and ended the year with just under 13.7 million pay-TV customers. (Dish)

Dish Network reported a surprising increase of 28,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2016—marking the first quarterly gain going back 10 earnings reports.

Because Dish rolls subscriber metrics for its fast-growing virtual MVPD service, Sling TV, into a central bucket of customers, it’s safe to assume that it lost more ground in the area of traditional satellite distribution.

Considering how things have been going for Dish—it posted an all-time-high 281,000 lost souls in the first quarter and another 116,000 in the third quarter of last year—any net addition is good news. For all of 2016, Dish lost 226,000 customers and ended the year with just under 13.7 million pay-TV customers. 

RELATED: Dish loses 281K subs in Q2 as Sling TV growth 'hits a wall'

Wall Street analysts had expected Dish to report losses of around 87,000 subscribers today.

“The company’s net adds however were meaningfully better than our expectations,” said Barclays Analyst Kannan Venkateshwar. “We note that the company had seen exaggerated declines in late 2015 and 2016 on account of a number of programming disputes which lasted till Q3, and a resolution of these combined with a seasonally stronger quarter seems to have resulted in the improvement.”

Dish’s net income in the quarter was $343 million, which compared to a loss of $125 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Revenue fell slightly to $3.72 billion, missing analysts’ forecasts of about $3.76 billion. 

Dish will conduct its fourth-quarter investor call at 12 p.m. EST today.