Late last week, ongoing Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality led Paramount Network and A&E to pull new episodes of two enormously popular law-enforcement/reality-crime documentary series, Paramount Network’s Cops and A&E’s Live PD. Fast forward a few days, and Cops was permanently canceled following thirty-two seasons. Now, Live PD‘s going the same route after four highly-rated seasons.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for Cops, given that Variety noted that Paramount had removed all mentions of the series from its website over a week ago. That surreptitious clue followed the first weekend of protests surrounding the fate of George Floyd, who endured a fatal apprehension as Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin pushed his knee into his neck for over eight minutes. On the Live PD front, this also isn’t a complete surprise, since some local governments (including that of Tulsa, Oklahoma), decided not to renew their contracts with the show after Floyd’s death. Deadline first reported the latest cancellation news, which happened despite Live PD‘s high ratings. Deadline also posted a statement from A&E:
“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.”
A&E’s call on Live PD occurred after a recent renewal for 160 more episodes and the show’s #1 status on Friday and Saturday night ad-supported cable. The series drew an estimated 3 million viewers each weekend since live sports went off the air due to the pandemic.
On a related note, NBC News reports that the 2019 death of Javier Ambler, who was Black, remains under investigation, and that the beginning of that law enforcement pursuit (because he didn’t dim his headlights in the face of oncoming traffic) was filmed by Live PD. Ambler also reportedly told sheriff’s deputies that he couldn’t breathe after they tased him multiple times, although there’s no word on whether Live PD has been pulled into the ongoing investigation.