Good news for criminals: Fox is cancelling its long-running crime-stopping series America’s Most Wanted.
The series profiling men and women wanted by law enforcement agencies has been on the air since 1988 and consistently wins its time period. A few years ago it announced the capture of its 1,000th criminal.
The brand will still have a presence on Fox next season; the network will air four quarterly two-hour specials. But the Saturday night mainstay will otherwise be replaced by repeats.
Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly told reporters on Monday that the show was no longer profitable.
“John Walsh has been an important guy at network for a long time,” Reilly says. “It’s been an important show for us historically. We haven’t made money on the show in quite awhile. It wasn’t particularly viable. We wanted to keep the franchise alive. John is having conversations about ways to keep the series alive.”
Another factor, Reilly noted, is needing an open time period where the network can re-air episodes of other shows.
“We’re going to be in originals across our schedule,” Reilly says. “We want to be able to play repeats to give the audience a chance to catch up and that’s one of the few places we can do that.”
America’s Most Wanted has a good chance of finding a home someplace else. The show averaged 5 million viewers this season and a 1.7 rating in the adult demo — pretty impressive for a Saturday, though that number was down slightly from last year. The main issue with the show wasn’t its popularity, but the cost of production.
The announcement came as Fox revealed its 2011-12 primetime schedule.