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Cord-cutter wars: Why Sling TV is losing steam as DirecTV Now gains

Cord-cutter wars: Why Sling TV is losing steam as DirecTV Now gains
[Photo: Tookapic/Pexels]

Dish Network is still bleeding satellite TV subscribers, and Sling TV isn’t picking up the slack. Last quarter, Dish-owned Sling TV gained just 41,000 subscribers, not nearly enough to offset the 192,000 satellite customers that Dish lost. In total, Sling TV now has 2.34 million subscribers, up from 2.21 million in February, and from 1.5 million at the end of 2016.

Rival DirecTV Now is having much more success. Last quarter, AT&T gained 342,000 subscribers for the live TV streaming service, more than compensating for the 262,000 traditional TV subscribers that AT&T lost. In total, DirecTV Now has 1.8 million subscribers, even though it launched 21 months later than Sling TV.

Why such different fortunes? Although DirecTV Now’s $40 per month base price is $15 per month higher than what Sling TV charges, it offers a lot more channels, including all four major broadcast networks and live local stations in many markets. Sling TV doesn’t include CBS channels at all, and encourages users to hook up an antenna for live local channels, which Dish sees as excessively priced.

Meanwhile, AT&T is also using its wireless business to push DirecTV Now subscriptions, with some plans offering $15 per month DirecTV Now discounts and free HBO. Given those advantages, it’s not hard to imagine DirecTV Now leaping into first place among live TV streaming services by the end of this year.

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