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.

  • Jay

    Yeah, I wasn’t feeling last season as much as the previous ones. I think it’ll still rate highly, however like most shows at this point in their lifespan, I think its best days are behind it.

  • Troll

    Game of Thrones will surpass True Blood in viewers before its run ends. Especially due to international viewings. GAME OF THRONES!

  • groove365

    I think the ratings may slip a little this year. I hear too many people complaining about the last couple of seasons and saying they’re done with the show.

  • James

    @Troll I don’t think Game of Thrones will surpass True Blood popularity in America but world wide it already has. It is the most popular show internationally HBO has ever had.

  • Sam

    The ratings are still good and GoT might stop growing after that huge disappointment of a season that aired this year. And the big drop in episode 2 was because the episode was on HBOGo a week earlier and this was a sort of an encore.

  • Mike

    Related to last season’s series high viewer total even with lower ratings: Would it be safe to say that HBO actually cares more about total viewers than ratings percentage anyway? More viewers for HBO translates directly into more $$$ for HBO, and a show that increasing in viewers year-over-year sounds like its always a win for them.

  • Richard Steven Hack

    I think True Blood is good for high ratings for at least one more season – unless they screw up this season. Last season wasn’t as good as the first three, although it had its moments.

    And I agree – we need MORE nudity (and not just of Alcide! C’mon, ladies, you know you want more of that!) :-)

    Supposedly this season we get more of Pam, which is a plus!

  • JRG

    Two things I look at. First, how many shows actually grow an audience year over year? Secondly, is the economy better than last year so more people are ordering HBO?

    First is no, second is barely. So my guess is down slightly.

  • Nick

    The ratings drop in the second episode was mainly because that episode was released a week early on HBO Go, not just because of Fourth of July weekend

  • Concerned Citizen

    Goddamn, I hope so. It’s such a godawful show, nowhere near worthy of the HBO brand.

  • scifi

    I hope this show will die, but I don’t see the way how it can happen any time soon…

  • Jayme

    Concerned Citizen
    Its a very good show last year was not great but over all its good.

  • davie

    I think it could make a new record. Last season’s cliffhanger was pretty wild, way better than Season 3’s.

    I’ll go with just shy of 6 million and a 3.5 18-49

  • Jayme

    If you add the States and Canada my guess total it will be 7.4 for tonight.

  • DW

    it will do fine. im not a fan of the show but i know some are and started hbo back up for it last week.

  • Concerned Citizen


    At best, I could understand calling it a guilty pleasure, though I’d still never call it that. But there’s no possible way anyone with good taste could claim that it’s an outright good show. It’s not.

  • 2134

    assuming Newsroom gets low ratings before it has the chance to premiere?

    Taking a quick look at TB ratings on wikipedia over the 4 seasons, it does not look to me like the ratings have decreased all that greatly from season 3. What is the 18-49s dip from season 3 to season 4 as that information was not on wikipedia? What makes you think that it’s best ratings days are behind it? Is it written to attract more page views by giving a sensational title on a topical subject (at least topical to the television viewing community who is the target audience for the show), if that’s the reason then good job – you made me look. If not then can u tell me exactly what makes you think it’s best ratings days are behind it?

    The ratings of episode 2 was low because that episode was given given on some other premium feature of HBO (don’t remember which) and a lot of viewers had already watched it.

  • 2134

    target audience for the website*

  • 2134

    the hyperlink for “saw series highs in last week’s season finale with 4.2 million viewers and a 2.2 adults 18-49 rating.” seems to be dead. It redirects to the homepage with page title “nothing found”

  • Robert Seidman

    @2134: It’s the Internet, don’t get too hung up on headlines and openings. I also said that I didn’t think new highs were out of the question.

    True Blood’s season three 18-49 ratings (and viewers) are here:

    I fixed the link to the Game of Thrones ratings.

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