Dish drops subs but sales up 30%

Dish Network’s third-quarter earnings rose 30 per cent as increased equipment, merchandise and rental revenue supported a double-digit jump in sales. Meanwhile its former unit EchoStar swung to a loss amid sharply higher costs.

The satellite-television operator has been working to diversify its business in the face of a maturing US subscription television market and the increasing popularity of online entertainment. Dish earlier this year acquired the assets of video-rental chain Blockbuster, a move it followed with the launch last month of a Blockbuster-branded streaming service available to its subscribers.

In the third quarter, Dish lost a net 111,000, putting its customer base at 13.9 million as of September 30th.

“Our net subscriber loss improved over the second quarter of this year but continued to be affected by increased competitive pressures, including aggressive competitive promotional offers, discounting and a weak housing market,” Chief Executive Joe Clayton said Monday.

Dish reported a profit of $319.1 million, up from $245 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 12 per cent to $3.6 billion.  The company’s operating margin widened to 17.3 per cent from 14.2 per cent, helped by the increase in revenue.

Meanwhile, EchoStar – the maker of set-top boxes that was spun off from Dish at the beginning of 2008 – posted a loss of $19.1 million. A year earlier, the company posted a profit of $5.2 million. Revenue was up 42 per cent to $863.2 million.

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