Fox is making a dramatic change to its Saturday evening lineup, cutting back on its long-running and iconic documentary series “Cops” in favor of live sports. B&C’s John Consoli has the scoop on the sports front, while Vulture’s Joe Adalian talks about what it means for “Cops.”
A Fox rep tells Vulture the network is simply “cutting back our order,” but that the reduction in episodes produced will not be dramatic. (She could not say exactly how many episodes will be produced going forward). What’s clear, however, is that Fox won’t be airing COPS as anything close to a weekly series for most of the remainder of 2012: Only nine Saturdays this year won’t feature Fox Sports programming, and those nine weeks are split in batches of three weeks over three months in July, August, and December. It seems more likely Fox will keep original episodes of COPS on hand for the first quarter of 2013.
That scenario should seen very familiar, as it mirrors Fox’s move to cut back on “America’s Most Wanted” last year. Sure enough, “AMW” eventually left Fox and found a new home on Lifetime. The odds are good that “Cops” will have a similar fate.
The entire Saturday sports programming package has been in the planning stages for more than a year, as Fox Sports had to acquire rights and permission to air certain games and events on Saturday nights.
“This is a collaborative effort between Fox Sports and Fox Entertainment,” says Eric Shanks, president of Fox Sports. “We decided to do it because the opportunity was there. Ratings continue to go down on Saturday nights and we thought we should take a swing at programming the night with sports each week.”
The new Saturday night lineup will include live NASCAR races, Major League Baseball games, Pac-12 college football games and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bouts. As part of its MLB Saturday night schedule, Fox will introduce a new, half-hour studio show and will title the night “Baseball Night in America.”