HBO’s True Blood is the type of show destined to be a hit.  Creator Alan Ball’s new series, which recently wrapped its first season, combines vampires, romance, sex, drugs and lots of nudity, all of which lure in different sectors of the audience.  It’s like Twilight for grown-ups.  However, True Blood wasn’t a smash hit right out of the gate.  When it premiered in September, the show pulled in a mere 1.44 million viewers, which is a far cry from HBO’s past hits like Sex and the City.

True Blood may not have sucked up big ratings with its pilot episode, but the show slowly built an audience over the course of its first season.  The series is picking up new viewers even faster than The Sopranos did during its run, with 2.4 million people tuning in for last week’s big finale.

True Blood‘s Sunday night viewership grew about 66 percent over the course of the season, but the numbers are more impressive when you add in the people who watch the show at other times.  Not only does HBO rerun episodes several times a week, but subscribers also have the option to watch them On Demand whenever they choose.  Add all of these viewing methods together and True Blood is actually being seen by about 6.8 million people per week, according to The Associated Press.  That doesn’t take into account illegal downloads, which have helped millions of others get hooked on the show.

Michael Lombardo, HBO’s chief of West Coast operations, told the AP that the network has been amazed by the growth of the series.  “We haven’t gone out and made a lot of noise about it because every week the numbers would come in and we’d say, ‘Wow, is this true? Will this sustain?'” he said.  “You see other networks putting on important programs on Sunday nights and you worry, ‘can you bring them back?’  What has been fantastic is to see the subscribers have been waiting for a Sunday night show they can make appointment viewing again.”

As True Blood has surged in the ratings, the book series that the show is based on has also climbed up the charts.  All seven Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris are currently in the top 30 of The New York Times paperback fiction bestsellers list.  The first season of the series was based on Harris’s first novel, while season 2, airing next summer, will be based on the next book, Living Dead in Dallas.

Season 2 of True Blood will begin filming in January.  HBO is planning a DVD release of the first season sometime before new episodes air, which should help millions more discover the addictive vampire drama.

– Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Writer
Source: Associated Press
(Image courtesy of HBO)


Staff Writer, BuddyTV