Sling TV Still Number One In Live TV Streaming, But For How Long?

Sling TV remains the most popular live TV streaming service but seems as though it has now lost all growth momentum.

Earlier today Dish Network announced its Q1, 2019 financials and confirmed by the end of the first quarter Sling TV accounted for 2.4 million subscribers.

This is exactly the same number of subscribers declared three months before, resulting in no meaningful change for the quarter.

On the positive side, no change also means no lost subscribers and that’s something that cannot be said for some of its competitors.

For example, this time last year DIRECTV NOW was Sling TV’s main competition but in the last six months alone DIRECTV NOW has lost 350,000 subscribers This has pushed the AT&T service down into third spot behind the rising Hulu with Live TV.

While Sling TV’s ability to avoid losing subscribers is as important as the growth stall it now faces, the lack of growth is an issue and one the service will need to combat if it is to continue to remain in the top spot going forward.

Sling TV has now only added 50,000 subscribers in the past six months. This a significant slowdown compared to the subscribers it was adding this time last year, and at the same time, services such as YouTube TV and Hulu with live TV are picking up subscribers at an impressive rate.

Neither YouTube or Hulu's options were considered proper competition before 2018, but that has all changed now with YouTube TV understood to have passed the one million subscriber mark recently, and Hulu with Live TV now believed to be holding more than two million subscribers.

Hulu does not typically confirm how many live TV subscribers it does have, but it did confirm this week the wider Hulu brand saw an uptick in overall subscribers in the past twelve months. Depending on how much of that uptick was for its live TV arm, and in the past three months alone, the difference between it and Sling TV’s subscriber head count could be minimal as of right now.

In either case, this is an even larger problem for Dish than it is for Sling TV as in spite of the lack of new subscribers in the last quarter, DISH TV lost 259,000 subscribers.

Although this is an improvement on the 334,000 subscriber loss for Q4, 2018, this does mean Dish has lost almost 600,000 subscribers in the last six months.

With Sling TV only having picked up 50,000 subscribers in the same period, it would seem as though consumers are not only moving away from Dish's traditional TV solutions, but they are no longer moving to the company’s streaming option. They are going elsewhere.

One of the strengths of Sling TV, and likely one of the primary reasons it has remained strong enough to avoid subscriber decline is its pricing. Sling TV is typically a price-conscious service and currently remains one of the cheapest options for those switching to a streaming service.

The downside here is the channel lineup is not quite as varied as some of the other services.

It could be the case that those who are already using the service are happy with what they are currently paying, while potential customers currently shopping around might be more swayed by one of the other services that although charges more, offers more in return.

The next quarterly announcement will prove to be an interesting one as so far in the current quarter Sling TV has made a return to its roots by honing in again on heavily-discounted pricing as a means to capitalize on price increases by the other services.

While both DIRECTV NOW and YouTube TV have now upped their price to $50 per month, Sling TV is currently available from as little as $15 per month.

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About the Author
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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]