DirecTV has been on the pay TV landscape since 1994 and its influence on entertainment and sports cannot be measured. It’s had the NFL Sunday Ticket pay per view package almost since its inception and carries an extremely large stick when it comes to making or breaking a sports network (see Pac-12 Networks). Now comes word that owner AT&T has launched DirecTV’s last satellite.

Now, does this mean that the DirecTV satelllite service is going away? Certainly not in the short term, but definitely in the long term. DirecTV won’t be launching new satellites and when its old birds die, they won’t be replaced. It means that eventually AT&T will want its customers to move to streaming and there’s word that there will be a streaming version of DirecTV launching in 2019. This DirecTV streaming service is not to be confused with the already existing DirecTV Now and WatchTV services.

The streaming version of DirecTV will not require the satellite dish on your roof, but will still need a set-top box. This ”new DirecTV” will look like that the present one, but details are still rather sketchy:

Details are still thin on exactly what the new DIRECTV streaming service will look like. We also don’t know when DIRECTV satellite will come to an end but that likely is years down the road.

The news of the last satellite launch came on November 29 when AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan made the announcement to analysts. DirecTV has about 20 million subscribers, but that number has been falling over the last few years. To top it off, DirecTV expects to have its subscribers start moving over to the streaming side next year with a self-installed box.

AT&T CFO John Stephens spoke (November 14) at the Morgan Stanley European Technology, Media and Telecom Conference and discussed DirecTV’s new premium streaming TV process.

“It’s a device that allows us to, instead of rolling a truck to the home, we roll a UPS or FedEx truck to the home and deliver a self-install box. This allows the customer to use their own broadband. We certainly hope it’s our own fiber but it could be on anybody’s broadband. And they get the full-service premium package that we would normally deliver off satellite or over our IP-based U-verse service,” Stephens said.

Whether or not NFL Sunday Ticket will be part of the new DirecTV is anyone’s guess, but as we head into a new decade, the days of satellite TV are numbered and for AT&T, it’s part of a move to the future and it’s not looking back.

[Quartz/Cord Cutting News]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.