Syndicated “Cops” to get makeover

CopsAfter two decades in syndication, an off-network property is getting a facelift

Cops, a longtime staple on both Fox and in off-network syndication, is being re-branded by Twentieth Television as Cops Reloaded in broadcast syndication and is being re-formatted an re-edited into different segments appering in the body of the show. For example, one segement could feature a car chase in St. Louis, and another could feature a food fight at a home in Kansas City (which really happened), all with new wraparounds. Other shows could be devoted to special themes.

Cops premiered on Fox on March 11, 1989, shortly after a test run on the network’s owned-and-operated stations. After being tested as a strip on a few stations for a year or so, Cops rolled out into national syndication in September 1993. In addition, Cops has aired on several cable nets, including TruTV and G4.

The new Cops is being sold in two-year, all-barter deals effective this September and it comes with some much-needed time period upgrades: in Chicago, Cops switches from 4 a.m. on WFLD-TV to an unspecified time slot on WCIU, most likely on its UToo channel. WFLD (and sister station WPWR) has aired syndicated repeats of Cops in a variety of time periods over the years, mostly as time period filler.

Other time-period upgrades include WLNY in New York (from an weekend overnight time slot at WNYW) and Los Angeles at KDOC (from various daytime weekend and overnight slots at KCOP.) Other clearences include stations from Gannett, Meredith, Sinclair, and Tribune.

Of course, Fox continues to air first-run episodes of Cops on Saturday nights (when not pre-empted by sports), now in its 25th season.

While the Cops Reloaded name in syndication will differ from its network counterpart, the practice is nothing new – up until the mid-1980’s, different titles were created for off-network shows in syndication when they were concurrently running in prime-time on their network to avoid confusion. For example, syndicated reruns of Lassie were given the title of Jeff’s Collie when the family drama was still running on CBS. Happy Days was Happy Days Again in off-net when the series was still airing on ABC. America’s Most Wanted added the Final Justice name in syndication in 1995-96 with AMW still running on Fox (after Cops.)

The only program still using a syndication title is Marshal Dillon, which was the syndicated name for half-hour reruns of Gunsmoke. CBS also used the name when it aired reruns of those same episodes in prime-time from 1961-64. Gunsmoke was canceled by CBS in 1975, but hour-long episodes in syndication appear under that name.

This item was first reported by Broadcasting & Cable on January 10.