Dish Network Corp's (DISH.O) quarterly revenue missed analysts' estimates as the U.S. satellite TV provider lost more pay-TV subscribers than expected.
The company's shares were down 1 percent at $63.88 in early trading on Monday.
The company said it lost about 143,000 net pay-TV subscribers in its first quarter through March 31, after losing 23,000 a year earlier. The number is double analysts' average estimate of a loss of 72,000 subscribers, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.
Dish's results and post-earnings conference call are being closely observed by analysts and investors as it is considered an acquisition target, particularly for U.S. wireless carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O).
In recent years, the company has been buying up spectrum, or radio frequencies that carry the growing amounts of data flowing through devices.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission barred merger talks among telecommunications companies for over a year as it conducted a $19.8 billion auction of airwaves from broadcasters for wireless use. Dish was the second-largest winner in the auction, bidding $6.2 billion to increase its spectrum holdings.
Companies taking part in the auction were restrained by a quiet period that ended last week when down payments were due from winners. Analysts and investors now expect them to engage in merger talks.
Dish's pay-TV subscriptions include both satellite as well as Sling TV, the company's online streaming service introduced in 2015 to lure customers who were dropping pay-TV packages in favor of cheaper options such as Netflix Inc (NFLX.O).
Churn, or the rate of customer defections among pay-TV subscribers, rose to 1.69% in the quarter, from 1.63 percent a year earlier.
MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said Dish's results were much worse than they appeared.
"Their profits are perversely flattered by the contraction in their business. By signing up fewer and fewer subscribers, they are reducing the amount that they spend on customer acquisition," Moffett said.
Net income attributable to Dish fell to $376 million, or 76 cents a share, in the quarter, from $400 million, or 86 cents a share, a year earlier.
Revenue fell 3.9 pct to $3.68 billion from $3.83 billion.
Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 69 cents per share on revenue of $3.78 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Dish's shares have surged more than 26 percent in the past 12 months.