What happened

Shares of cable television name Dish Network (DISH) are down 12% as of 12:26 p.m. ET Friday, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, following the release of the company's first-quarter revenue and earnings figures that both fell short of estimates.

So what

Analysts knew Dish Network was facing a brisk headwind. They simply underestimated it.

For the three-month stretch ending in March, the satellite-delivered cable TV service provider turned $4.33 billion worth of revenue into per-share earnings of $0.68, down from $4.5 billion and $0.99 per share in the same quarter a year earlier and missing analysts' expectations for sales of $4.38 billion and earnings of $0.69 per share.

Perhaps more alarming to investors, however, is the continued streak of subscriber losses. Dish Network shed another 462,000 paying customers during the quarter in question, with roughly the same number of people canceling cable that canceled access to their virtual, streaming cable alternative Sling TV.

A falling chart plotted on a chalkboard.

Image source: Getty Images.

It should be noted that the entirety of the television-based entertainment industry is struggling to match the strong results seen in the throes of the pandemic, when consumers were largely stuck at home and looked to TV to pass the time. Even the venerable Netflix (NFLX -9.09%) saw a slight decline in last quarter's subscriber count.

Still, last quarter's customer losses extend a long-standing streak of customer attrition that was underway for Dish well before COVID-19 surfaced.

Now what

The cable TV industry is simply still fighting a losing battle against streaming platforms like Netflix and Walt Disney's (DIS 0.16%) Disney+, which are cheaper than traditional cable even when several are paid for every month. Dish Network is in no position to escape this broad headwind.

And that's a problem for this particular company.

See, with no other meaningful business to develop while the cable business continues to shrink -- even Dish's Boost Mobile wireless business lost 343,000 subscribers last quarter -- there's no great bullish argument to be made here. That's especially true given how many other great stocks can now be bought at fire sale prices instead.