A Game of Thrones Studio Tour opening next year and an HBO prequel pilot may just be the beginning of AT&T's attempt to keep its hit HBO series alive long after the May 19 series finale. As The New York Times' Jeremy Egner notes, "pop-culture trends and market pressures might ultimately work against" letting the Game of Thrones phenomenon die down. "So as HBO’s biggest ever hit prepares to begin its final season on April 14, a definitional question hangs over its future: Is Game of Thrones a series? Or is it a universe?" he asks. After all, Egner adds, AT&T "presumably didn’t buy Time Warner just to let one of its most valuable pieces of intellectual property go dark." The Game of Thrones "universe is too rich not to try,” says HBO programming president Casey Bloys. “But on the other hand, I also don’t want to do it just to do it.” Egner adds: "It’s worth noting that there are some potential obstacles to Game of Thrones becoming the next Star Wars. One is the firmly TV-MA tenor of the series — the risqué material precludes youngsters from fueling the franchise as actively as they do for others. (HBO argues that this will keep Thrones relevant even if it doesn’t add more series, as new generations discover the saga.)" Yet Bloys says it's too early to start thinking of Game of Thrones as a franchise. “To me, franchise denotes multiple films or multiple TV shows living at the same time,” he says. “Not having even turned a camera on the prequel just yet, it’s premature to say at this point, to declare we’re going to have multiple series living at once.” Still, says Egner, "there are already signs that AT&T plans to treat Thrones as one more synergistic cog in its corporate machine. Kristian Nairn, who played the fan favorite Hodor, was tapped to appear this week at an AT&T store in Boston, where customers could also enter a sweepstakes for a seat on a 'Dragon Wagon' to the season premiere in New York."