Sling TV has finally encountered subscribers losses for the first time, but it might be too early to make any rash judgement on the state of the service. After all, Sling TV is neither new to this game, nor in a bad position to compete.
While ‘first-ever’ suggests this could be a major turning point for Sling TV, the jury is still out on that. Yes, it is the first time the service has encountered subscriber decline and that will immediately raise questions. However, without a second (and even third) quarter to back up an actual decline, things have to be looked at in perspective.
Firstly, this subscriber decline comes on the back of a very good quarter for the live TV streaming service. In November, Sling TV announced a rise to 2.69 million subscribers – the highest number it had seen to date. While this was good for Sling and Dish, it was also counter to expectations and the trend.
Sling TV’s subscriber losses might not be as bad as it seems
Up until the third quarter results, Sling TV had been the subject of mediocre growth in the previous quarters. It was adding subscribers, but only barely, and felt more like the service was stationary rather than moving forward. For example, in the first two quarters the service only added around 50,000 subscribers, bringing the overall total to 2.47 million. In fact, since the first quarter of 2018 (when the subscriber count rose to 2.3 million), Sling TV’s growth has been steady, but slow.
When you then compare that to the jump from 2.47 million in the second quarter of 2019 to the 2.69 million in the third quarter, it becomes clear the quarter-over-quarter change of 214,000 new subscribers was out of sync with what was generally happening with Sling TV.
Again, Sling TV losses to the tune of 100,000 are important to note, but on their own, and following an unusual increase of 214,000 subscribers, it might not be as revealing as it first seems. If even half of those newly-added subs in the third quarter felt this was not the right service for them and switched then that would account for the decline in its entirety – and would still show Sling TV with growth compared to the quarters before the spike quarter.
With the company seeing a massive swing for an unknown reason, it might not be that unusual to then see more of a rebalancing in the next quarter. Which is why it is too early to draw any major Sling TV conclusions without some additional quarterly results indicating similar losses.
Just take a look at AT&T TV NOW. This is a service that’s consistently (and at an alarming rate) lost subscribers each and every quarter for well over a year. That’s a service in decline.