"Cops" May Still Be Overlooked
“Survivor” is trumpeted as the progenitor of the current boom in reality series, which has turned multiple networks into large profit centers. Rightfully so.
Its success in the summer of 2000 got networks thinking that people were excited about watching other regular people, so its place in history is secure.
But looking back, it’s a wonder it took until then for networks to appreciate the potential so much. Since 1989, “Cops” offered a playbook for cable networks to garner the type of success they now enjoy from original reality series.
The reality series propelling so many networks now are much similar to “Cops” than the arguably more staged “Survivor.” Two genres “Cops” represents – up-close with law enforcement and a window into troubled souls – have spawned reality shows on networks from National Geographic Channel to Spike to A&E to TruTV.
But now, “Cops” is heading into de facto retirement, according to New York magazine. The publication says Fox is yanking it from its Saturday night perch for at least 28 of the next 32 weeks through Dec. 8 as sports events replace it. Fox says it’s not cancelling the show with the unforgettable “Bad Boys” song.
It’s possible – maybe likely – that if Fox does end the show, one of the cables will pick it up (reruns still air on multiple outlets). But it is one of the last links, along with “The Simpsons,” to when Fox was the upstart counterpuncher in the 1980s. Since then, the one-time “coat hanger” network has had a remarkable rise, turning the Big Three into the Big Four.
One early Fox executive once said, "The Simpsons" will run forever. “Cops” seemed on that course as well.
Not to be overlooked in Fox’s Saturday shake-up is that it is another example of how valuable live sports programming has become. Fox will sprinkle in baseball, NASCAR, college football and UFC.
Audiences will be larger, but Saturdays won’t be the same. Whatcha gonna do?