The 2012 season opener, which didn't face the NBA Finals, drew 5.2 million viewers

Airing opposite the NBA Finals this year, viewership for the season premiere of HBO’s “True Blood” dropped some this year but it remains a ratings force.

Nielsen estimates that the first airing of the season’s sixth-season opener averaged about 4.5 million viewers Sunday at 9, down 15% from last year’s 5.2 million when the vampire drama didn’t oppose the NBA Finals. “True Blood” was also down 11% from last season’s finale in late August.

The 4.5 million puts it a bit above this spring’s season premiere of “Game of Thrones” (4.37 million), with that show then growing throughout its run and finishing with 5.39 million viewers a week ago.

For two telecasts Sunday night, “True Blood” drew a combined 5.6 million.

Leading up to the return of “True Blood,” HBO drew 2.3 million viewers for the 8:45 p.m. special “True Blood: Live From the Set” drew about 2.3 million viewers.

Next month, “The Newsroom” kicks off its season season on Sundays at 10 after “True Blood.”

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