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January 28, 2015

True Blood growing faster than The Sopranos

by Mike Moody, posted Nov 20th 2008 12:10PM
True Blood HBO Paquin MoyerIt's no big secret. People love their movies and TV shows based on vampire book series -- romantic vampire book series, to be exact. Proof of that will be crowding your local multiplex this weekend thanks to the release of Twilight, the teen vampire flick based on Stephenie Meyer's inescapable best-seller. (I'll guess I'll wait another week to catch Role Models. Navigating through a sea of rabid teenage "Twilighters" isn't worth it. Sorry, Paul Rudd.)

Want more proof of the popularity of blood suckers? HBO execs are saying their freshman vampire series True Blood, also based on a series of novels, is developing an audience faster than The Sopranos, aka one of the most financially successful cable series in the history of TV. Michael Lombardo, HBO's chief of West Coast operations, says that The Sopranos' viewership numbers grew slowly. The big ratings jump didn't come until season two. But True Blood has fared better, with a 66 percent jump in Sunday night viewership since its premiere in September.

Does True Blood have Twilight to thank for its ratings success? Maybe. I'm sure it doesn't hurt the show to be associated with one of the most popular franchises since Harry Potter, but True Blood is obviously aimed at a much more mature audience that its teen-centric counterpart. I think those rabid Alan Ball fans might also have something to do with the ratings spike. This is the writer-producer's first series after viewer and critical darling Six Feet Under. With True Blood, it seems like Ball has been able to tap into a whole new audience without completely alienating fans of his previous work. Now he's got the biggest hit of his career.

So, will True Blood prove to be a bigger success in the long run than The Sopranos? HBO has already green-lit a second season, and Ball seems confident that he'll have stories to tell even after he burns through Charlaine Harris' source material. Or will its momentum fade when the vampire craze calms? I think the show can continue to succeed after the trend dies down, but I don't think it will be as successful as The Sopranos. It's hard to call, but something tells me the mobsters might win this turf war. They pack sliver bullets, right?

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