DirecTV characterized the loss as a deliberate effort on their part to shake out some of the "bad" customers. Any time you lose upwards of five percent of your customers, there should be a sucking sound of some sort. More than 1 million adds (down 9% from Q3 2005) resulting in less than 170,000 additional customers (of which less than a third are considered "quality")?
What caused this exodus will be debated for quite a while, but the likely answer is going to be a combination of the competition improving while not markedly improving themselves.
That would be the correct assessment in my opinion. Two years ago, I would have never imagined leaving DirecTV. I swore I would never even entertain the thought of going back to TWC but the R15 and a steadily degrading picture quality have basically eliminated any quality differences between D* and TWC. Price is the last advantage DTV has over the comparable digital cable package but that gap is narrowing as well. And when it comes time to pay for the fleet of new birds, it will likely close completely.
I sit patiently waiting for the arrival of FiOS. Then they can both take a hike...