W. Erik Carlson
President and Chief Executive Officer at DISH Network
Well, thank you, Tim, and welcome, everyone. Thanks for being here today. I'm going to start off with a few brief comments and then turn it over to Charlie for a few additional remarks. When Charlie is done, we'll open it up to your questions. During the call today, we have a few slides that are available that we'll refer to on our investor site at ir.dish.com. Before I dive in, I want to start with saying that our thoughts are with the people of the Ukraine and our team members. We have a small development shop there. And so this really hits close to home and we wish them, obviously, safety and good health. Getting into the details. On the whole, we executed with financial discipline and reported strong revenue and free cash flow numbers for the year.
Look, we need to do a better job in our subscriber targets for DISH, Sling and retail wireless, and we've removed some headwinds in order to execute this year. In addition, we have accelerated our wireless network build and are excited to share more about this in a few minutes. With regard to fourth quarter, DISH lost roughly 200,000 subscribers. And this was driven by several factors, the most significant being our local programming dispute with TEGNA for the majority of the football season. Now I'm pleased to report that we are able to come to terms and sign a new agreement with them earlier this month. And in addition, we had a price increase in November. It did have an impact on our subscriber numbers but will make a positive impact on the bottom line this year.
We kept DISH TV very profitable with a disciplined and smart marketing expenditures. We managed to focus on acquiring and retaining long-term profitable customers. And look, we played where we're strongest in rural America with higher credit quality customers. Turning to Sling TV. In the quarter, we lost approximately 70,000 subscribers. Simply put, we didn't execute operationally in the fourth quarter to the level that we expect of ourselves. But as we've talked about before, we needed to reengineer the platform as well as the user interface. We focused on that work last year and completed the majority of the effort in Q4. Overall, the feedback has been tremendous from our customers and validated by other third parties.
Sling is a profitable business that will grow. It's going to require a little patience, but with the platform overhaul last year, we're now positioned to be able to innovate and enhance the customer experience with new features and differentiated offerings. Sling is still the best overall value in regard to other OTT services due to the service, reliability, live TV offerings, watch party capabilities and its value price position. So it's imperative that we execute on our plans on time and as intended. On Pay-TV, we remain focused on acquiring and retaining profitable customers and delivering a great experience for both DISH and Sling. Switching gears a bit, our wireless business is poised to take off in 2022. Our retail wireless business is set to chart a new course and while we lost approximately 245,000 subs in the quarter, our disciplined operational approach continues to pay off as we've driven profitability into that business.
We built an operational foundation upon which to grow our retail wireless business. We had headwinds that impacted us, such as supply chain disruptions, specifically significant cell phone shortages and the burden of the CDMA shutdown. We worked with our vendors to mitigate many of these issues, and we'll continue to make progress that we'll build upon in 2022. Our wireless network team has made significant progress over the past quarter and recent weeks. We'll begin opening up access to customers in numerous markets over the coming months. And at a high level, we'll hit our June milestone with 20% of the population covered. We currently have over 25 major metro markets ready to be deployed before the deadline, including around 100 smaller cities across the country.
And look, we're excited about the coming months and the deployment plan for the rest of 2022, and we have the necessary capital to execute our plans this year. Las Vegas is already up and running. We've had friends and families using the network. We're about to expand it to additional customers in the coming weeks through Project Genesis. In addition, we're pleased with our results from the 110 spectrum auction, where we acquired bands that align well with our current C-band and CBRS holdings. I'm going to tell you more about that in just a minute. We'll bring it all together in 2022. It's shaping up to be just a remarkable year for DISH. We've got a lot to share as we evolve our business operations and our products and services, and make deep inroads in the wireless space. It's going to be a year of execution, and I'm excited about our opportunities. Our best days here are truly ahead of us.
Now I'd like to turn it over to Charlie for some opening remarks.