U.S. satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp. Chairman Charlie Ergen reportedly thinks his company will eventually merge with rival DirecTV.
Dish earlier on Wednesday posted fourth-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations, as it lost fewer pay-TV subscribers.
Ergen said the long-rumored merger of DirecTV and Dish was "inevitable" — despite reticence from AT&T to divest itself of the asset — as neither satellite TV-delivered linear TV service was growing, the Hollywood Reporter explained.
"The growth in TV is not coming from linear TV providers, but from huge programmers," Ergen told analysts with a reference to streaming era competition, the Hollywood Reporter explained.
Ergen acknowledged potential regulatory challenges to a merger, but said it would make sense “because you can’t swim upstream," the Street.com quoted him as saying.
Dish has struggled to retain subscribers for its pay-TV business, as customers shift to online streaming services including those from Netflix Inc. (NFLX), Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Apple Inc. (AAPL).
The company's pay-TV business, which includes satellite TV and subscription streaming service Sling TV, lost a net of 194,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, fewer than the 334,000 it lost a year earlier, Reuters reported.
The company's Sling TV service lost 94,000 subscribers in the quarter, its first subscriber loss in at least eight quarters.
The satellite company has been trying to add subscribers to pay-TV products while repositioning itself as a wireless phone carrier.
Dish awaits the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint Corp., as the companies received the green light from a federal judge last week to complete the deal. The merger includes Dish acquiring Sprint's prepaid phone businesses to create the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the United States.
The merger puts Dish in the race for the next generation of wireless. Dish said it would cost $10 billion to build out its 5G network.
Dish shares (DISH) closed at $41.25, down 4 cents. AT&T shares (T) closed at $38.44, up 18 cents.
This report uses material from Reuters.
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