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‘Westworld’ Could Be Another ‘Game of Thrones’-Type Hit, Time Warner Boss Says

In UBS talk, Jeff Bewkes also says pending merger with AT&T would be “good for both companies”

“Westworld” already ranks among HBO’s biggest-ever hits, possibly even giving “Game of Thrones” a run for its money, according to Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes.

“Westworld” is “a big success,” Bewkes said Tuesday at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York.

Bewkes alluded to Sunday’s Season 1 finale of the sci-fi series about an amusement park populated with robots, saying the show “actually just finished, and had the biggest first year of any series, including ‘Game of Thrones.'”

Sunday’s 90-minute closer for “Westworld” drew 2.2 million total viewers for the live telecast on the linear premium cable network, although live viewing in an on-demand world is a small piece of the puzzle. HBO estimates that across all platforms, “Westworld” is averaging 12 million total viewers.

“Westworld” still has a ways to go before matching “GoT,” which across all platforms and showings has reached 23 million total viewers. But with “GoT” set to end after its eighth season — and with Netflix and Amazon pouring millions of dollars into program development — it’s become crucial for HBO, a Time Warner unit, to find its next tentpole drama series.

Meanwhile, Bewkes was upbeat about the pending merger between Time Warner and AT&T, which he predicted would close by the end of 2017, “if not sooner.”

Bewkes turned aside skepticism from some critics that the combination would bring more benefits for AT&T than for his company.

“I think it’s good for both companies, and I’m not sure it’s that easy to predict whether it would be more for one or another,” he said.

The move would ultimately benefit consumers, Bewkes said, arguing that it would allow them to receive more of the content Time Warner makes under its various brands — including HBO and CNN — over more devices.

“What we wanted, and we’ve been saying this for a long time, is we’ve been working on a lot of things to make the explosion and the number of and the increase in quality of TV programming relevant and available in all the different ways that consumers are wanting to get to this stuff,” Bewkes added.