Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV, announces the new Sling Television streaming service by Dish during the Dish news conference at the International Consumer Electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 5, 2015.
Photograph by Rick Wilking — Reuters
By Reuters
February 22, 2017

U.S. satellite TV provider Dish Network reported a better-than-expected profit as it unexpectedly added pay-TV subscribers in the fourth quarter.

Dish said it added about 28,000 net subscribers to its satellite TV and Sling TV streaming services in the three months ended Dec. 31. That compared to a loss of approximately 12,000 subscribers in the same period in 2015.

Analysts on average had estimated Dish would lose 87,000 subscribers, according to market research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Shares rose 1.8% to $64.00 in pre-market trading on Wednesday.

Analysts said the subscriber additions were largely driven by Dish’s lower-priced streaming service Sling TV, pointing out that the company’s quarterly revenue missed estimates.

“The underlying satellite business continued to underperform,” said Spencer Kurn, an analyst at New Street Research. “That’s why revenue missed.”

Sling TV, launched in 2015, is a way for Dish (dish) to target cord-cutters, or customers who are dropping traditional cable TV for streaming services like Netflix (nflx).

Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, estimated that Dish lost 245,000 satellite subscribers in the fourth quarter. “Once again, the overall picture of Dish’s video business is rather disquieting,” he wrote. “Churn continues to tick higher.”

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Churn, or the rate of customer defections, was 1.83% during 2016, compared to 1.71% in 2015.

Net income attributable to Dish was $343 million, or 70 cents per share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $125 million, or 27 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell to $3.72 billion from $3.78 billion.

Analysts on an average were expecting to earn 66 cents per share on revenue of $3.76 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

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