Calling all units: Cops is staking out a new home. After a landmark 25 seasons on Fox, the bad boys, bad boys of documentary/reality show will be moving to Spike TV this fall.
Spike TV has ordered 22 new episodes of Cops, which will premiere its 26th season in September. The cable network will even air Cops in its familiar slot, Saturdays at 8/7c. Production has already begun in locations such as Sacramento, Sarasota, Fla., and Texas.
Executive producer John Langley tells TV Guide Magazine that the timing was right to make a change, as Fox had pre-empted Cops for most of this season in favor of sports.
"Fox is changing its programming strategy," Langley says. "So I was happy to find a new home with Spike. It matches our demo and it's an aggressive cable network. It's appointment viewing and people know we're on Saturday nights. They just have to turn the dial a little bit."
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."
Spike TV has also struck a deal to license some older Cops repeats that will be paired with the new ones. Kay says he'll initially air back-to-back originals of Cops to form a full hour. But eventually, Spike will pair repeats with originals, just like Fox did for years.
With Cops in place, Kay hopes to establish a new night of programming on Saturdays, where the channel currently airs movies. "In the short term, we'll air repeats of our original series behind Cops," he says. "But we'll eventually use Cops to build new original series."
When it does air, Cops continues to usually win its time period among viewers and adults 18-49. "I expect to do the same at Spike," Langley says. Kay promises that Spike TV has no plans to meddle with the Cops formula. "We told them, 'You guys know this better than we do.' It's perfect, we have a tremendous amount of trust."
It's the end of an era for Fox, which was still in its infancy when Cops debuted in 1989. The network aired Cops together with America's Most Wanted on Saturday nights for 14 years; AMW moved from Fox to Lifetime in 2011 and has now been canceled. Spike TV also previously revived another Fox reality castoff, World's Wildest Police Videos.
Langley produced the series Undercover Stings for Spike TV; he has other projects in development that he also hopes to bring to the cable channel. Meanwhile, he's also looking forward to how Spike TV plans to drum up new interest in a 25-year-old franchise. "We'll have the promotion we never really had at Fox," he says. "The attitude at Fox was always, 'Cops does so well without it, why promote it?' Imagine how well it would do with a little promotion. I'm looking forward to 25 more seasons. I'd like to break records all over again."