Dish Profit Misses Analysts' View as More TV Customers Leave

Added 105,000 Sling TV Subs, According to Estimates

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Dish Network Corp. posted profit that missed analysts' estimates as more TV customers canceled service, further pressuring Chairman Charlie Ergen to show investors that he has a plan beyond the satellite-TV business that will capitalize on the company's vast airwave holdings.

Full-year earnings fell to $1.61 a share, the Englewood, Colorado-based company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts projected $1.73, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose to $15.1 billion, beating analysts' projection of $15 billion.

Dish added about 105,000 Sling TV customers in the fourth quarter, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence estimate. To counter losses of traditional pay-TV subscribers, Dish created the $20-a-month streaming service, which includes live broadcasts from channels including ESPN and TNT. The cheaper TV alternative, known as a skinny bundle, helped offset the estimated loss of 536,000 Dish subscribers last year, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Dish said it will "potentially participate as a bidder" in the upcoming broadcast airwave auction next month, according to its annual report filed Thursday. Mr. Ergen has said he hopes to have a wireless network that can deliver advanced services like video and internet to rival the larger U.S. carriers. The company has acquired an estimated $50 billion worth of radio wave spectrum to help facilitate that goal. Investors and analysts will look to Mr. Ergen to provide an update on the plan during a conference call Thursday at noon New York time.

Dish ended 2015 with 13.9 million video subscribers, including satellite and Sling, compared with 13.98 million at the end of 2014.

The average monthly subscriber defection rate, or churn, was 1.71% for the year, up from 1.59% the previous year.

Dish ended 2015 with about 623,000 broadband subscribers compared with 577,000 a year earlier.

-- Bloomberg News

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