UPDATED: With little fanfare, Saturday’s hourlong season finale of Cops actually marked the venerable docu-reality series’ last original airing on Fox. The network signaled that the end was near when it cut back significantly the order for this season to accommodate sports coverage on Saturday. Cops‘ current 25th season did not premiere until December 15 after more than half a year off the air. Cops marked its 850th episode in February, and, with no plans for the show to return to Fox next season, the producer, Langley Prods., started looking for a new home. They’ve found it at Spike TV, where Season 26 of Cops will debut in September, airing in its long-time Saturday 8 PM time slot. As part of the deal, male-centric Spike TV also is acquiring a portion of the Cops library. (The news of the show’s move was first reported by TV Guide.)
This marks the end of an era as Cops was one of the programs that established the Fox brand and the longest-running Fox series currently on the air. Its cancellation comes two years after Fox ended Cops’ long-time companion, America’s Most Wanted, as a regular series. After a two-season stint on Lifetime, AMW again is looking for a new home after the cable network cancelled it a month ago. Cops ended its run on Fox respectably, drawing 2.9 million viewers and a 0.9/3 for its finale Saturday, the second-highest-rated program of the night in 18-40 behind CBS’ 48 Hours, which now is left as the only regularly scheduled Saturday series on the broadcast networks. (It has already been renewed by CBS for next season.) “Cops is a remarkable series that has been able to sustain strong ratings well into its third decade, a monumental achievement in television,” said Spike TV president Kevin Kay. “As we continue to grow and expand our audience, new episodes of Cops, with its loyal audience of Adults 18-49, is the perfect addition to our primetime lineup on Saturday nights.” Cable networks have stepped up their original efforts on Saturdays, including AMC recently expanding into the night.