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.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Focusing on 18-49 ratings for premium cable networks doesn’t make much sense. They’re not reliant on advertising like broadcast networks, their main concern is subscriptions. So total viewers is much more important for them.

  • LeeMo

    Lets stop bashing true blood. True blood is like one of the best shows out there. You don’t realize how much HBO makes money from true blood. Millions. Viewership does matter to HBO. Cause if no ones watches it, then why spend so much money to make it. Then why do they make Veep and Girls if its only 1.1 rating? Because thats considered a lot to HBO and its not that expensive to make. You gotta realize, HBO only has 29 million subscribers! ABC,NBC,CBS, FOX, etc. they have the whole country to program, and they need that 2.0 rating or above to survive that show. So, lets stop bashing true blood. Season premiere is gonna be millions of viewership.

  • Jayme

    Concerned Citizen
    Its about what people like for many its a good show take Ncis many say its a great show some say its a awful show.

  • 2134


    Thanks for the season 3 ratings link, your website is really the best source of TV ratings and ur predictions while played safe, are almost always spot on, can’t deny that…but you have to agree, the article offers nothing substantial…pointless, even?

  • Concerned Citizen


    Literally nothing you said is even close to relevant to whether or not True Blood is a good show. Nobody’s denying it’s a commercial powerhouse. That doesn’t mean we can’t bash the show over its creative flaws, of which there are many.

  • chicago_animal

    Didn’t the Olympics have record lows recently? I don’t see them all that a threat to True Blood.

  • Truebloodlover27

    It’s gonna be huge!!! Wooh love this show soooo much Yaya

  • One

    I think it will be down a bit because a few people will come around to the general thought pattern that it sucks harder than the vampires on the show. And I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a slow bleed given that most reports say there’s decreased nudity versus past years (apparently, that’s a draw for something as creatively bankrupt as this).

    As an aside – and an excuse to complain about Falling Skies – I bet that inexplicably catches new highs this season despite being likely to be just as bad if not worse than True Blood.

  • One @ chicago_animal

    You might be thinking of the fact that NBC got hosed money-wise on the Winter Games in 2010 because Dick Ebersol or whoever was in charge of their sports division overpaid for them. From what I recall, they were actually up vs. 2006. (anyone who actually remembers the numbers, feel free to correct me)

  • joss

    It was F amazing ! cant wait til ep two

  • Jared

    I gave up on True Blood after season 2..but will be watching this season only because of Chris Meloni..

  • John

    Christopher Meloni back on TV Fangtastic!!!!

  • Marsinvestigations1

    The 1.5 was a week HBO made the episode available online and through on demand early

  • Jonathon

    Well, the season premiere was actually insanely good. Surprised the hell out of me. I hated Season 4 and most of Season 3, but it seems Ball and company have outdone themselves here. So, if viewers had any sense in them, they’d stay tuned for the next episode. If Season 5 maintains this level of quality, I sure hope it gets better ratings than Season 4.

  • Madeline

    Why does everyone pick on and talk trash about HBO? Yet Showtime and F/X can do no wrong. Do you guys really hate HBO? Showtime and F/X are amazing but they make mistakes too.

  • Adil

    True Blood Season 5 premiere pulled 6.3 million viewers!!!!!!! haha there you have it.

  • Holly


    That 6.3 is counting both airings. The regular airing got 5.2 million.

  • joss

    that is lower than last year premiere

  • Donna C

    Really, I hope they series ends after season six. Any chance of doing anything remotely like the plots for books six and seven are gone with Sophie-Anne. Then there’s the logic of the vampire characters showing age. It’s not huge, but it’s noticeable. I’m iffy on this season so far. I liked a few things in the premiere, but a lot of it had me rolling my eyes. Not in the “oh, this is so cracky good” way, either.

  • maria

    the ratings are really good, why the press continues to say that are drop?have not sense, and the higth ratings of season 4 was only for alexander skarsgard, the story was really bad and boring, HBo and allan ball have to thank alexander for save the season.

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