True Blood’s Second Season Averaged 12.4 Million Viewers Per Episode

September 28, 2009 by  

True Blood Cast with Alan BallEven in this tough economy, the second season of Alan Ball‘s HBO vampire drama True Blood was a ratings juggernaut.  Whether viewers watched each episode when it first aired on Sunday night, saw it on Demand, or used DVR to watch the episode later, they were all indisputably and avidly tuning in to every episode this summer.

This month, Variety examined the top three subscription cable networks, calling specific attention to True Blood in its analysis of the way audiences are changing their viewing habits:

The audience base for HBO‘s red-hot vampire drama “True Blood” offers a good illustration of how viewing is changing.

According to HBO, the series’ sophomore season, which wrapped Sept. 13, averaged 12.4 million viewers per episode, when measured across various viewing platforms. But only 24% of those viewers came for the show’s premiere 9 p.m. Sunday telecasts.

Some 37% of “True Blood’s” true-blue fans caught reruns on HBO and its themed channels throughout the week, while 21% watched via DVR playback and 18% watched on the HBO on Demand platform. It’s telling that the percentage of on-demand viewing climbed significantly from the show’s first season, when it was 13%, while the rerun viewing dropped sharply, from 56% in season one.

While the rest of the article contends that subscription cable channels are scrambling to maintain viewing audiences and subscriptions in the face of Internet download services like iTunes, TV by the Numbers strongly disagreed with Variety’s stance on this issue, stating:

When the numbers can just speak for themselves, let them speak for themselves!  In September 2008, Nielsen estimated coverage for HBO was 30.78 million, Showtime, 18.93 million and Starz in 20.6 million.   In September 2009 the estimates are 32.5 million for HBO, 22.2 million for Showtime and 22.52 million for Starz.   That’s not an exodus, that’s growth!  Significant growth!  …Could it be that in a recessionary environment, even as customers rein in discretionary spending, that the perceived value of the entertainment dollar for subscription cable services is higher!?

Regardless of the long range plans of all three subscription networks, clearly HBO owes a huge part of the network’s growth in viewership to Allan Ball and the fantastic cast, writers, and crew of True Blood.  Equally obvious is the audience’s feeling that True Blood provides quality entertainment worth paying for.  While it’s smiles all around for network executives, this information is fantastic news for True Blood fans everywhere because it means we will get more of the show we love.

How do you watch True Blood?  Do you watch each episode on Sunday night premieres?  Watch each episode on Demand?  Record each episode on DVR to watch later? Catch reruns later in the week?  Rewatch each episode to catch things you might have missed the first time around?

Without a doubt, with True Blood pulling in such phenomenal numbers, HBO will be watching our viewing patterns closely as they move forward as an entertainment provider.

SOURCE: Variety and TV by the Numbers

(Photo credit: JustJared)