Are "True Blood's" Best (Ratings) Days in the Rearview Mirror?

Categories: 1-Featured,Cable TV

Written By

June 9th, 2012

Yes, of course we know that the ratings don't matter to HBO in the way that they matter for broadcast networks and advertising supported cable channels. HBO doesn't sell advertising so it really only cares about happy subscribers and luring more of them. And yes, of course we know that means HBO doesn't really care about how the premiere telecast of a particular episode fared. It cares more about all the aggregate viewing including DVR, encore telecasts and HBO Go.

True Blood's best ratings days may be behind it. But if that's the case it amounts to a big "so what?" If you're big into analyzing and/or lamenting the quality of the show -- other than telling you there's an excellent chance you'll be back lamenting the quality next year-- you've come to the wrong place.

Whatever you might think of the show's quality setting new ratings records is certainly not out of the question for True Blood. True Blood didn't set a new high with adults 18-49 in season four (yes, of course we know that doesn't matter to HBO) -- its series high in 18-49 was in its penultimate episode of season 3 on August 29, 2010 with a 3.2 rating. But  it did set a new high in total viewers last season in its August 21, 2011 episode with 5.526 million viewers.

Here are the ratings for season four of True Blood:.

Date 18-49 Rtg (Live+SD) Viewers (Millions)
Sunday, June 26, 2011 3.0 5.424
Sunday, July 03, 2011 1.5 2.902
Sunday, July 10, 2011 2.8 5.043
Sunday, July 17, 2011 2.7 5.104
Sunday, July 24, 2011 2.8 5.261
Sunday, July 31, 2011 2.8 5.189
Sunday, August 07, 2011 2.9 5.143
Sunday, August 14, 2011 3.1 5.300
Sunday, August 21, 2011 3.1 5.526
Sunday, August 28, 2011 2.9 5.312
Sunday, September 04, 2011 2.4 4.391
Sunday, September 11, 2011 2.8 5.052


Even if you don't love True Blood anymore the most likely scenario is that it will still be HBO's highest-rated show by a fairly wide margin. For comparison purposes Game of Thrones saw series highs in last week's season finale with 4.2 million viewers and a 2.2 adults 18-49 rating.

Of note last season True Blood got stung by both the July 4th holiday weekend and the Labor Day holiday weekend. In past seasons sometimes HBO decides to sit on the sidelines during holidays and not air new episodes. Without advertising and with encore telecasts, DVR, on demand and HBO Go, HBO really isn't worried about taking the ratings hit on the holidays. Presumably its scheduling is focused on maximize the True Blood benefit for its much lower-rated shows (Veep, Girls, Newsroom, etc)

This year July 4 falls in the middle of the week so the episode scheduled for Sunday July 1 probably won't take much of a hit. The way the schedule lines up, True Blood will finish up before Labor Day so that won't be an issue this year either. But the last Sunday in July and the first two Sundays in August it will have to contend with the Summer Olympics.

  • JC

    The premiere my be boosted by Directv’s HBO freeview this weekend.

  • buttondiet

    You said it’s best ratings days may be behind it, but you don’t say why you think this…

  • Walt

    I like how you assume The Newsroom will rate low. lol

  • Bill Gorman

    “I like how you assume The Newsroom will rate low. lol”

    I’d say it has “loved by the critics & NY/Hollywood, ignored by the viewers” written all over it.

  • Gary A

    I think it will be close and some individual episodes may score record numbers ( the premire Sunday may do that ), but overall, I think this season will be down – slightly.

    But as Robert said, this is HBO and ratings don’t matter as much.

  • Robert Seidman

    @JC, historically “freeview” views aren’t counted in the Nielsen ratings we (or anyone else) see.

  • Nick

    This season it will get between 2.4-3.1. It might equal the ratings high, or it might not.

  • zerg

    even the so-so 4th season got series high on August 21

    so i guess it will go up near 5.5 m and 3.1

  • Barbarossa

    I agree with the Fact the Tb won’t be that high again this season Probably hovering around the 2.5 area.

    Sorkin’s not only got a pretty good Critic rep, but he’s got a fairly decent sized fanbase who will probably follow him to HBO, so I disagree that’ll be Girls, Veep range

  • Gerald

    It’s probably going to have the same range of ratings as last season… I don’t think we are going to see highs. But why is the article making it look like it doesn’t do well in the ratings?

  • MMOGAddict

    If they keep hiring chicks as main characters for a season who don’t show us the goods then likely it will keep falling.

    We beed a bit more reason to keep watching that Anna Panqin occassional flashes.

  • catocony

    Last season was not very good IMHO. Too many characters, way too many plotlines, it was more soap opera than anything else. If True Blood can get back to the excellence of the first two seasons, it can still add viewers. If not, it’s numbers will get smaller.

    Season 1 was excellent. I thought season 2 was even better, although many disagree. Season 3 was good, but a step down from the first two. Season 4 was several big steps down from Season 3.

    But 5, I think it’s going to be great. The reverend turned into a vampire, Russell Edgington back, hopefully Tara is truly dead. Eric and Bill on the run from the vampire HQ. Those are some really cool plot lines to move forward with.

  • Jon23812

    I predict 5.5 – 5.7 million viewers.

  • Jared

    As someone who has sat out of true blood the last couple seasons..I will definitely be checking in this season only because of Christopher Meloni.

  • joss

    why is thah big drop on the second week?

  • SalaciousCrumb


    ummm july 4 weekend.

  • Joan

    I liked the first two seasons of True Blood even when I didn’t like how much the series deviated from the novels, but I found season 3 somewhat boring, and stopped watching season 4 about three episodes in. I did catch up on HBO Go, but I wasn’t all that impressed. I am interested to see what Christopher Meloni can bring to the series, but unlike so many I care nothing for the Russell Edgington character; a vampire born in Eastern Europe with one of the most annoyingly fake southern accents ever spoken.

  • joss


    wich was on monday

  • SalaciousCrumb


    people do stuff all 3 day weekend….duh.

  • Justin121

    OMG those ratings are better than Desperate Housewives!!!

    Thinking it’d get 0.9s LOL

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