AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson explained the company's plans related to its pending acquisition of Time Warner with an example based on HBO's popular series Game of Thrones. While speaking at J.P. Morgan's Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference on Tuesday, the top executive of the second largest mobile service provider in the United States asserted that the Dallas, Texas-based company will be looking to leverage Time Warner's valuable content portfolio in an effort to improve its mobile media content business. One example of that effort provided by Stephenson was Game of Thrones, as AT&T CEO explained that 20-minute Game of Thrones episodes would likely perform better on mobile devices than hour-long ones would. While that was just a hypothetical example that Stephenson said will likely prompt HBO CEO Richard Plepler "to panic," the general reasoning behind it is something that AT&T will explore in the future.
Game of Thrones specifically likely won't be shortened to 20-minute episodes until the main series runs its course and the final, eighth season airs in 2018, but one of HBO's four recently announced spin-offs based on George R.R. Martin's popular fantasy franchise might adopt a shorter format or AT&T could opt to release an abridged version of the eight Game of Thrones seasons in the future. Regardless of the company's plans, its merger with Time Warner is still subject to the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and possibly the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), though the latter is unlikely to object given the previous comments on the matter expressed by the agency's Chairman Ajit Pai. Stephenson's Tuesday speech didn't provide many more insights into AT&T's plans for Time Warner, though the executive said that completing the Time Warner deal is the carrier's main priority this year. Finally, the company has no plans to restrict Time Warner's content to its own subscribers, Stephenson said, saying how such a move would be detrimental to the value of the portfolio that AT&T is paying $85 billion for.
AT&T's planned merger with Time Warner is the latest step in the company's efforts to diversify its revenue stream and an update on its efforts to do so is expected to follow in the coming months.