Soon (9/28) Dexter and Californication will square off head-to-head with True Blood and Entourage on Sunday nights. I'm not sure the folks at Time Warner will be able to handle being beat by Showtime in a head-to-head competition. But it actually could happen.
HBO's new series True Blood premiered to a less than stellar 1.4 million viewers. USA Today described the numbers as modest. "Modest" must be the new "that sucks". The numbers for the Alan Ball (and I loved American Beauty) vampire drama stunk. I'm not saying the show stunk, only the numbers.
I know what you're thinking: but Mad Men gets numbers like that and you love it! Mad Men is on modest AMC and its season premiere at least did over two million viewers. HBO has a history of success, unfortunately, it's just history and all in the past. Even once the heyday of The Sopranos was over, it still routinely pulled more than six times as many viewers as True Blood. I predicted the numbers for True Blood would not be Sopranos or Sex and the City like, but I didn't think they would be so...modest.
When there was no press release from HBO, I definitely figured under 3 million viewers, but under two million surprises me. I have to imagine it surprises (and disappoints) HBO even more. Though HBO is quick to point out when the 10:30p rebroadcast is factored in, the total viewer number bounces to 2.1 million. But even with that lumped in, the numbers must still be tremendously disappointing. Last summer John in Cincinnati premiered to 3.4 million viewers according to Variety, though admittedly "John" didn't have to compete with Sunday Night Football. HBO is already anticipating DVR viewing numbers, which seems pretty desperate for a show that just premiered.
Meanwhile, Entourage fades, drawing 1.6 million in its season five premiere following True Blood on Sunday, down from 2.2 million for the season four premiere.