A&E Loses Half Its Viewers After Dropping Police Reality Show ‘Live PD’
According to The Wall Street Journal, “ratings for A&E Network have plummeted since it canceled the hit police reality show ‘Live PD’ on June 10, a sign of how much the network relies on law-enforcement programming.”
Between June 11 and July 19, average prime-time viewership for A&E was 498,000 people, “down 49% from the same period last year, according to data from Nielsen. In the key demographics of adults 18-49 and 25-54, the declines are 55% and 53%, respectively,” reported The Journal.
The show, which “follows police on their rounds in multiple cities simultaneously, averaged about 1.9 million viewers for its Friday and Saturday night episodes, repeatedly re-aired on other days. It spawned several successful spinoff shows, also canceled,” the report added.
A&E, which is co-owned by Disney and Hearst, canceled “Live PD” in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. “The death has sparked protests about police violence, a movement to defund the police and broader discussions about race and diversity,” wrote The Journal.
ViacomCBS’s Paramount Network last month “canceled ‘Cops,’ another long-running reality show following police on the beat. With under 500,000 viewers an episode, ‘Cops’ has a much smaller audience than ‘Live PD,’” the report continued. A&E has other popular shows, “including ‘The First 48’ —which follows the first two days of a criminal investigation—and ‘Court Cam,’ about outbursts inside courtrooms, but none as successful as ‘Live PD.’”
The report stated that the network’s ratings “declines go beyond prime time. Total daily average viewership in the weeks since the show was pulled is down 36% from a year earlier.”
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, “A&E called the drop a ‘temporary hit in the ratings’ that it expected given the success of ‘Live PD’ and that it has been mostly replaced by reruns. The network said it has always been able to ‘find new hits and reinvent ourselves.’”
When A&E canceled “Live PD,” the network said: “This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on ‘Live PD.’ Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil-rights leaders as well as police departments.”
In the entertainment industry, “Mr. Floyd’s death has led to discussions about the role television and movies play in shaping perceptions of law enforcement and whether portrayals of police have been too one-sided and have failed to address concerns about excessive force and bad policing,” said The Journal.