Seven kingdoms! Seven gods! And now, season seven of Game of Thrones will only have seven episodes! Coincidence?! Almost certainly!
Both the showrunners and the directors haven't exactly kept Game of Thrones' shortened final seasons a secret, but now HBO has specified there will be only seven new episodes of the show airing next year, and that the season will indeed premiere later than usual. From Variety:
"Now that winter has arrived on 'Game of Thrones,' executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss felt that the storylines of the next season would be better served by starting production a little later than usual, when the weather is changing," said Casey Bloys, president, HBO programming. "Instead of the show's traditional spring debut, we're moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule."
Specifically, they have to wait to shoot until actual winter comes, because, well, winter has finally come to Westeros. But that's only for southern locations like King's Landing; the show will also be filming part of the upcoming season in Iceland, presumably for places the winter will hit hardest (for example, Winterfell).
Anyway, I'm going to put my money on season eight also having seven episodes, but with the final episode being a massive, two-hour epic, thus resulting in the 75-hour total that Benioff has said they always had in mind from the beginning. And I'll place a smaller, secondary bet on the last two episodes both being an hour and a half long, with the penultimate episode being the final fight with the White Walkers and the finale being an epilogue (there's going to be a lot of stuff to wrap up, after all).
Anyone want to bet against me?