Cops, the early reality TV show that was kind-of cancelled in 2020, will air a previously unaired new season next month, on Fox News’s streaming service Fox Nation.
In the wake of protests over George Floyd’s murder last summer, Paramount Network—formerly Spike TV—cancelled it just before its 33rd season premiered.
But Cops itself never went away: Paramount Network’s parent company, ViacomCBS, kept airing Cops 24/7 on its advertising-supported streaming service PlutoTV. It’s still there today, on channel 367, in the “Crime” section.
Langley Productions also continued filming in Spokane County, assuring The Hollywood Reporter that those episodes were made for international distribution and would not be shown in the United States.
New episodes are now on their way. Fox Nation, Fox News’s streaming service, announced it “has greenlit the return of the iconic series.”
However, it will start by airing season 33, which of course was greenlit by Paramount Network long ago. It’s unclear how much of season 33 had been produced, but since it was cancelled one day before the premiere, at least some of that season—if not all—had completed filming and post-production.
The press release said Fox Nation’s “deal also includes 15 episodes from season 32,” so it’s going to the past for reruns.
The LA Times reported that season 33 “some of [the season 33 episodes] were being filmed” when it was cancelled in 2020. Fox Nation president Jason Klarman told the paper that the series is “very acceptable to our audience who are cops and first responders and people from the military I think they are big fans of the show and they miss the show.”
But Klarman also said that Fox Nation will ensure that the suspects shown are racially diverse:
“Part of our vetting process included a review of the offenders to be featured in the new season and ensuring that the shows would be representative of the entire population.”
When Cops was still airing on Fox’s broadcast network, the organization Color of Change encouraged its cancellation, citing “its history of dehumanizing and racially inflammatory portrayals of people of color” and saying “COPS paints a damaging and distorted portrait of crime and the criminal justice system.”
Do we now trust Fox Nation to ensure that doesn’t continue to happen? Klarman, who previously was president at Oxygen and a VP of marketing at Bravo, also said this in a press release,
COPS is one of the most iconic brands on television with an incredibly passionate fan base. We wanted to show our appreciation to all first responders by combining the launch with a free one-year subscription to give back in a small way to those who place their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.
So yes, Fox is using Cops to get more people to sign up for Fox Nation, which costs $5.99 a month or $64.99 a year.
Fox Nation will also donate money to Answer the Call, a charity that exists “to provide financial assistance and a network of support to the families of New York City Police Officers, Firefighters, Port Authority Police, and EMS Personnel who have been killed in the line of duty.” But Fox Nation will only do that if people subscribe to their service, donating $5 per new subscriber.
If you’re thrilled about the return of Cops, while you wait for those new episodes, I recommend the podcast Running from Cops, which does an excellent job of explaining how the show is produced behind the scenes, and why that matters.