One of the very first reality shows, 'COPS' has been a staple of the FOX network for an incredible twenty-five years. Now, after all that time, the series is moving to a new home on a new network: Spike TV.
Debuting in 1989, 'COPS' skyrocketed in the ratings, captivating audiences with a gritty hand-held look at crime in America. The average-joe presentation of the officers on the program coupled with the action of suspects resisting arrest made 'COPS' one of the most talked-about programs on television and did much to cement FOX as a true ratings contender alongside the big-three networks. The success of the series lead to crossover references or appearances on other FOX series including 'The Simpsons' and 'The X-Files,' the latter of which filmed an entire episode in the traditional 'COPS' video style.
Now, Spike TV has ordered the twenty-sixth season of 'COPS,' which will include twenty-two new episodes and will premiere in September. Production has already begun in locations such as Sacramento, Sarasota, Fla., and Texas.
So why the move? After twenty-five seasons, 'COPS' may remain the same but FOX is an entirely different network. The programming strategy of FOX has altered over the decades and much of the twenty-fifth season of 'COPS' was pre-empted in favor of sporting events. Spike TV president Kevin Kay says he approached Langley a few years ago about acquiring 'COPS' but the producer wanted to make it through 25 seasons on Fox before entertaining a move. Kay and Langley spoke again this spring, and a deal was quickly reached. "It's the perfect show for Spike," Kay says. "We want the fans to just shift over hopefully effortlessly."
'COPS' is an opening salvo against Spike's current Saturday line-up, which until now has focused on airing feature films. Spike is moving to add more series, original and syndicated, into their Saturday programming.