Undaunted by facing the NBA Finals, HBO’s “True Blood” launched its third season to impressive numbers Sunday.
Nielsen estimates that the vampire drama sunk its fangs into 5.1 million viewers — up sharply from the 3.7 million who tuned in on premiere night a year ago and on par with its second-season finale from last September (5 million).
And as was the case in its first two seasons, “Blood” performed especially well among adults under 50. Its 2.9 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 ranked ninth among all primetime programs last week , even though HBO is only available in roughly 30% of homes.
Among scripted programs, only Fox’s “Glee” fared better last week, suggesting that “Blood” could emerge as summer’s top drama draw among young adults.
The show again exhibited a good gender balance, with 53% of its 18-49 aud comprised of women. And among adults under 35, the split was 50-50.
It’s a testament to the series that so many of its fans watched on air Sunday — opposite a hugely popular NBA game — since the show is available at other times via the pay cabler’s linear replays and On Demand. HBO notes that the second season of “True Blood” averaged a gross audience of 12.6 million viewers (on-air, DVR and On Demand) even though its 9 p.m. premiere averaged 4.3 million.
On Sunday, a second airing of “True Blood” at 11 p.m. drew 1.3 million viewers — likely picking up some auds who had watched the NBA Finals.
The basketball game on ABC drew a big 18.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched summer telecast (excluding the Olympics) in five years.