HBO Banks on More 'True Blood'

Two episodes and one ratings uptick into its first season, "True Blood" has earned a second year on HBO.

The network made the announcement Wednesday (Sept. 17), ten days after the series premiered to a middling 1.4 million viewers. HBO, however, notes that the ratings for the second episode improved to about 1.75 million viewers, and about 4 million people eventually watched the premiere over multiple airings and on demand.

"We are absolutely thrilled that the critics and our viewers have embraced 'True Blood,'" HBO boss Michael Lombardo says. "[Creator] Alan Ball has done it again -- made an addictive series that is unlike any other."

Based on the "Southern Vampire" series of novels by Charlaine Harris, "True Blood" is set in a world where vampires have come into the mainstream thanks to the invention of synthetic blood that meets their nutritional needs.

It stars Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse, a small-town Louisiana waitress who can read people's thoughts, and Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton, a 173-year-old vampire who comes into her life. The series also features Rutina Wesley, Ryan Kwanten, Lois Smith, Sam Trammell and Nelsan Ellis.

Production on the second season will begin early next year for a summer 2009 premiere.