Revenue at DISH Network grew 1 percent to $2.92 billion in the fourth quarter 2008, but the satellite provider lost subscribers even as rival DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) added 301,000 subs in the U.S. — DirecTV’s’s strongest growth in three years. DISH’s net income grew 24 percent to $217 million for the quarter, and EPS was $0.48 versus $0.39 during the same period in 2007.
DISH’s net subs decreased 102,000 in the fourth quarter to bring the company’s total subscriber base to 13.7 million at the end of 2008. For the same period in 2007, the company had a net increase of 85,000 subscribers; analysts had been forecasting a modest increase in subscribers during the fourth quarter 2008. In a 10K issued this morning DISH attributed the drop in subs to consumers’ tightening their belts and competition from cable and other satellite providers. Almost all of the lost subs for came in the fourth quarter, suggesting that the worsening economy is forcing at least some people to give up satellite TV service.