Dropping ‘Live PD’ has cost A&E half its viewers

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.

Average prime-time viewership for A&E between June 11 and July 19 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.

The show, which follows police officers during calls for service 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, Fox Business reported.

A&E, co-owned by the Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., dropped “Live PD” in the wake of the custodial death of George Floyd.

The sister shows of “Live PD”—also canceled—include “Live PD: Police Patrol” and “Live PD Presents: PD Cam.” In some weeks, the “Live PD” universe accounted for more than 85% of A&E’s daily programming.

The programs were very profitable to the network, due in part to their low production cost. In 2019, the “Live PD” empire brought in $292.6 million in advertising, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media. For the first quarter of 2020, the programs sold $95.8 million in advertising, according to Fox Business.

The franchise’s fan base—the self-dubbed “Live PD Nation”—has been very active on social media, encouraging a boycott of the network until the programs are returned, which A&E hasn’t ruled out.

“We are continuing to listen to both community leaders and ‘Live PD’ fans to find a way to serve both moving forward,” A&E said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.


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