Sling TV Shakes Up Top Management

Dish COO Carlson takes control of OTT service as Lynch becomes Pandora CEO
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Sling TV is undergoing a management shake-up, with the over-the-top pioneer now under the purvey of parent Dish Network's president and chief operating officer Erik Carlson, as longtime CEO Roger Lynch leaves to become CEO of online music service Pandora. The Sling TV management changes are effective Aug. 31.

"Erik is positioned to fully support and grow our enterprise's portfolio, including our Sling TV asset, as we work to connect 100 percent of the country through satellite, OTT, wireless and even digital over-the-air offerings," Dish chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen said in a statement. "Our company has built incredible assets from satellite, broadband, and streaming technologies, to a fleet of in-home experts and software development. We will continue to leverage those assets to be tuned in to the needs of our customers."

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Carlson is a Dish veteran of over 20 years and oversees the company's day-to-day operations including human resources, operations and Information Technology, media sales, marketing, programming, acquisition and retention, finance and accounting organizations. Carlson will continue to report to Ergen.

"I want to thank Roger for his leadership over the past eight years, creating and defining the country's first live OTT service," Ergen said in a statement. "Roger built a fantastic team that will take Sling TV into the bright future ahead, and I wish Roger the best in his new endeavor."

Lynch was Sling TV’s first CEO and guided the OTT service through its launch in 2015. Dish does not release subscriber figures for Sling TV but analyst estimates put the service at about 1.4 million customers.  

Lynch was Sling TV’s public face, a regular at the service’s presentations at the Consumer Electronics Show and Dish’s highest paid executive last year with total compensation of $4.2 million.  Lynch joined Dish in 2009, leading the relaunch of its DishWorld (now Sling International) service in 2012. Under his leadership, according to the company, he increased DishWorld’s subscriber base more than tenfold.  

The moves come as Sling TV is entering a period of growing competition in the OTT space. When the service first came on the scene, it was literally the only game in town. Now it jockeys for attention with other millennial-focused OTT services like Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, Amazon Prime Video and a growing list of new entrants. In addition, individual networks are also getting in on the act, with the Walt Disney Co. announcing last week its plans to launch direct-to-consumer offerings beginning in 2018.

 At the same time, Dish is watching its traditional satellite business dwindle – it lost 196,000 net subscribers in the second quarter, on top of a loss of 281,000 in the same period last year. For the second quarter, MoffettNathanson principal and senior analyst Craig Moffett estimated that Sling added about 89,000 new customers, compared to 49,000 additions in the prior year.

Dish stock was unchanged at $58.72 per share in after-hours trading Monday, after closing regular trading up 26 cents each.