Vampire-themed series aims to bite into ratings

BUDAPEST — HBO’s vampires are coming to a region that understands the blood-thirsty creatures well.

HBO Central Europe launched Alan Ball series “True Blood” with a lavish party in Budapest on Feb. 5, and is airing season one in all its markets: Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

According to Ondrej Zach, VP of programming & acquisitions, “Blood’s” popularity in the U.S. augurs well for Europe.

“We’re confident because we’ve seen the results in the United States,” Zach says. “We are getting a strong reaction from the press. In those territories where we see numbers, (such as) Poland and Hungary, we have a strong and positive audience reaction.”

The series may resonate here for more bloodthirsty reasons.

Central Europe, after all, gave the world its first vampires: from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula,” set in Transylvania (now part of Romania), to Slavic countries like Serbia and Croatia where vampire myths are folklore.

“I don’t think there is anybody (from this region) who doesn’t know what vampires are,” Zach says.

But will blood-sucking myths translate into viewership? Noemi Kertesz, PR and Communications Coordinator for HBO Hungary, is sure they will.

Per Kertesz, the vampire-themed film “Twilight” did exceptionally well in Hungary, which bodes well for “True Blood.”

“Twilight” didn’t dominate in every territory in HBO Central Europe. (For reasons still unclear, the blockbuster fell short in the Czech Republic.) But there are other precedents, such as the success of Ball’s previous HBO offering “Six Feet Under,” which was well received across central Europe.

VP Zach is bullish on “True Blood” because of its production values, and because it is homegrown. “It’s a great series,” he says. “HBO original production is an important part of our programming concept.”

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