Ergen: OTT Future Is ‘Inevitable’

Any doubters of the notion that over-the-top services are migrating away from being complements to traditional pay TV services and toward outright replacements need look only at the latest from Dish Network chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen.

Ergen said Dish’s Sling TV service — single-handedly responsible for driving the satellite-TV provider to positive subscriber growth in the most recent fiscal quarter (Q4) — is a pay TV replacement.

Sling TV added an estimated 273,000 customers in the period, with Dish not releasing an official number, which puts Sling at about 1.1 million total subscribers. That was enough to offset an estimated loss of 245,000 satellite customers. (For more on Dish’s pay TV business.)

Sling TV first launched as an enticement to millennials who’d already cut the cord and to those that never had a pay TV subscription. Now, Dish said, the focus has changed: Along with other OTT services, Sling has aimed at any household looking for an alternative to cable or satellite TV.

“The rest of the industry is going that way,” Ergen told analysts and reporters during the Feb. 22 earnings call. “We’ve gotten dragged into that, and maybe it wouldn’t be my first preference for how it will go, but I think it’s probably inevitable.”