Could AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner lead to smartphone-friendly Game of Thrones episodes?

AT&T is on its way to purchasing Time Warner for $85.4 billion. One of Time Warner’s crown jewels is HBO, and one of HBO’s crown jewels is Game of Thrones – so much so that no less than four spin-offs are planned once the current fate of the Seven Kingdoms is settled. Without wanting to dampen expectations, it’s worth remembering that for every Frasier, there’s a Saved by the Bell: The College Years.

Could AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner lead to smartphone-friendly Game of Thrones episodes?

Additionally, you’d better hope that AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson doesn’t have too much influence on television decisions when the purchase completes, because he has an interesting idea for the show – and not in the innocuous form of wacky spin-off concepts (Podrick and Brienne: Partners in Law).

“I’ll cause [HBO CEO Richard] Plepler to panic, but think about things like Game of Thrones,” Stephenson said at the annual JP Morgan technology, media and telecom conference in Boston. “In a mobile environment, a 60-minute episode might not be the best experience. Maybe you want a 20-minute episode.”game_of_thrones_20_minute_episodes_for_mobile_1

To be fair, this wouldn’t necessarily be instead of the full show, more of a digested watch for those without the time for the entire programme. Purists may moan, but this would essentially just be more editing that the story has already undergone throughout its journey from book to screen – and you can’t tell me that every single murdered character I bothered to remember the name of was important to the overarching narrative. All the same: it’s not like Game of Thrones is a TV show that’s struggling for ratings, so it feels a little odd to be thinking through possible innovations when everything is going so swimmingly.

Still, the good news is that they have no plans to make the show an AT&T exclusive, so consider this the lesser of two evils: “You’re not going to take Game of Thrones and make it available only to AT&T customers,” Stephenson said. “That’s crazy. That would destroy the value.”

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