There was only one problem with True Blood's biggest-ever season premiere.
It wasn't bigger.
For the first time, the HBO vampire show didn't shoot up like a rocket from season to season.
Not that the competition didn't get burned anyway.
The show's fourth-season premiere sucked in 5.4 million, more than enough to make it cable's most-watched scripted series of the week, as well as True Blood's most-watched opener ever.
Additionally, Sunday's show was, along with last September's third-season finale, the series' most-watched episode ever.
On the downside...Well, there isn't a downside, but there is this observation:
From the show's season-one premiere to its season-two opener, True Blood's audience exploded by more than 100 percent. From season two to season three, it grew by nearly 40 percent. But from season three to season four, it was up "only" 6 percent.
So, it could be that True Blood has maxed out.
Which, granted, is better than bottoming out.
Other TV ratings winners--and losers, per the latest Nielsen rankings:
- BET Awards: With 7.7 million viewers, up a touch from last year's show, it was the only cable thing bigger--and scarier to watch --than True Blood.
- Burn Notice: With 5.2 million viewers, Burn Notice's season opener rivaled True Blood's. (Just don't ask if it rivaled its own 2010 season opener, 'cause it didn't come close.)
- Cars: Sorry, critics, Lightning McQueen can't be beat. A few days before Cars' poorly reviewed sequel killed at the box office, the not-quite-acclaimed 2006 original aired on Disney Channel, and scored the week's biggest audience for a movie (4.2 million).
- Expedition Impossible: The Survivor-esque, Amazing Race-ish competition series got off to a Top 10 start in the 18-49 demo. Overall, the ABC show averaged 7.2 million.
- Same Old, Same Old: Yup, America's Got Talent and The Voice were the most popular and most demographically desirable shows, respectively.
- Falling Skies: The TNT sci-fi show fell from 5.9 million viewers from its premiere week to 4.2 million for its second week.