Impasse over Spanish-language channels drove customers away from satellite-TV service
By: Drew FitzGerald
Dish Network Corp. and Univision Communications Inc. agreed to end a more than nine-month standoff that left the satellite TV company without its most popular Spanish-language programming and drove many customers away from the service.
The companies said in a joint statement that they had agreed to settle all pending litigation and restore channels including Univision, Univision Deportes and Galavisión to Dish’s service.
Dish Chief Executive Erik Carlson thanked customers in a statement “for their patience as we worked to reach an agreement that is fair to all parties, especially our customers.”
Univision CEO Vince Sadusky said in a statement he was pleased the deal reflects the value of Univision’s programming. “We look forward to once again providing Dish and DishLATINO customers with the news, sports, and entertainment content they love,” Mr. Sadusky said.
The companies didn’t disclose the terms of their new carriage agreement.
Dish’s customer base has eroded in recent months, as more satellite-TV subscribers abandoned the service in search of less expensive entertainment. Dish Executive Chairman Charlie Ergen said in a recent call with analysts that channel blackouts affecting Univision and HBO, a unit of AT&T Inc., have accelerated those declines.
Dish ended 2018 with 9.9 million satellite-TV subscribers, down 1.1 million from a year earlier. The company has offset some of those losses by adding accounts through online video service Sling TV, though that brand’s lower prices have pressured its profitability.
The company issued no update on the status of talks with HBO, which led to blackouts on Dish and Sling TV in November. Dish executives have warned that more customers could leave if they don’t reach a deal before April, when HBO’s popular “Game of Thrones” series returns.
The carriage dispute wounded Univision, too. The New York broadcaster said non-advertising revenue in its media networks unit fell 11% in the fourth quarter to $279.6 million amid the standoff.