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'True Blood' returns with less bite

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True Blood 601

HBO’s True Blood returned with less bite in the ratings this summer, though competition from the NBA Finals might have been to blame.

The sixth season of the vampire drama debuted to 4.5 million viewers Sunday evening, down 13 percent from last year. But last summer the show wasn’t against ABC’s coverage of the basketball championships.

The premiere number is on par with the third season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones, a show that’s frequently stacked against True Blood in ratings comparisons (Blood‘s first telecast Sunday was slightly higher than the first airing of Thrones in April, yet its full Sunday night tally, including a repeat, was lower than the fantasy drama). Thrones recently edged out TB to have HBO’s second most-watched drama season ever behind The Sopranos.