“Cops” moves from Fox to Spike TV

CopsBeginning in September, first-run installments of Cops is changing addresses from Fox to Spike TV, where it will begin its 26th season. The Viacom-owned cable network plans to run fresh episodes Saturday nights at 7 p.m. (CT), the same time slot Cops occupies now on Fox.

Spike also acquired rights to several past seasons of Cops. Existing off-network deals with other cable networks (G4/Esquire and TruTV) are not affected.

Cops was television’s longest-running television show in broadcast network primetime, lasting 25 seasons and one of the last original shows airing on Saturday nights.

The reality show was paired with another long-running reality series, the now-defunct America’s Most Wanted, where it was paired with Cops for nearly two decades. But in 2011, Wanted shifted to Lifetime and was canceled earlier this year. A year ago, Fox started preempting Cops for live sports, leaving the series with an sporadic schedule. Fox decided a while ago not to renew the show, enabling producer John Langley to shop the show around to other networks, thus culminating in the Spike deal.

Cops‘ departure from Fox leaves CBS’ 48 Hours as the last non-sports program airing original episodes on Saturday nights. There is no word on what Fox would fill the time slot with on weeks it doesn’t air a sporting event.

This past Saturday, Cops won its 7-8 p.m. time slot – but only with a 0.85 rating/3.5 share in adults 18-49, and 2.95 million viewers. Those were the final first-run episodes of the season.

The announcement comes as the nets are firming up their schedules for the 2013-14 season to present to advertisers at next week’s upfront presentations. Look for a lot of bubble shows’ fates to be decided this week.

Fans of the show without cable or satellite can still watch repeats of Cops in broadcast syndication. However, a re-formatted version of those off-network episodes begins airing this fall under the title COPS Reloaded. According to Wikipedia, 891 episodes of Cops have been produced, meaning you can air the program once a day for more than two years without repeating the same episode twice!