Businesses have long based their policies on what makes money. They need to create the conditions that will bring customers back. Thus, when companies abruptly change course, people assume it is linked to the company’s bottom line.
If directors perceive something that will impact their reputation and profits, they will find ways not to offend customers. That is why protests work. No one likes bad publicity. No one doubles down on decisions that lose money.
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When Companies Panic
Such reactions can backfire. Companies sometimes panic and do not follow what their customers think but act out of fear they might not be following politically correct thinking. A&E Network, a popular television franchise, made such a fear-driven decision and is now paying the price.
A&E is co-owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., two well-established members of the liberal media establishment. The company was prospering despite troubled COVID waters. Until recently, Its prime-time viewership was up 4% from the year before.
Then, it canceled its hit reality show. Ratings have since plummeted. Average prime-time viewership is now 498,000 people, a drop of 49 percent.
The canceled show was a victim of the “cancel culture” devastating the country. “Live PD” is a police reality show following police on their rounds in several cities. It can have as many as 1.9 million viewers watching its Friday and Saturday night episodes. These shows also enjoy popularity when played as reruns on weekdays. The success of “Live PD” inspired similar shows using the same police theme. All told, police reality drama can account for as much as 85 percent of the company’s viewership.
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The Cancel Culture Strikes
With the death of George Floyd, the nation erupted in violence and protests. The defund the police movement found support from liberal mayors, politicians and media. Portraying police favorably suddenly fell out of favor. A&E immediately thought to save itself by canceling the show and its two most popular spinoffs.
Following suit, Paramount Network, owned by ViacomCBS, also pulled its long-running reality show “Cops,” which features the live action of police enforcing the law. The program enjoyed nearly half a million views per episode.
A&E had everything to lose by pulling out. There was no public demand to cancel a show whose minimal production costs meant big profits. Police reality shows netted the company $292.6 million in advertising revenue in 2019. They were on target to make much more in 2020.
All this programming and its revenue are now gone as A&E seeks to “reinvent” itself in a post-police future. The cancel culture has spoken, and the firm hastens to commit rating suicide to accommodate the anti-police sentiments fanned by liberal media.
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The network has acknowledged it has “taken a temporary hit in the ratings.” It has adopted the safe narrative of saying it must now listen to both sides by dialoguing with activists and officers.
A Free Monitoring Service
The canceling of “Live PD” presents a glaring contradiction. This show has portrayed the actions of police officers of all races, day in and day out for years. The producers of this series have reported no incidents of brutality and violence. No viewers have registered complaints of brutality about these daily activities that often involve episodes of violence. The spontaneous nature of the reality filming makes it impossible for police to stage their adventures. This is the real thing.
Moreover, these episodes are recorded in many police departments around the country. Thus, it provides a sampling of police practice as it is observed nationwide. This portrayal of police doing their duty almost without reflection should also be the perfect test to find cases of systemic racism. And yet none are reported.
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Indeed, the police reality shows provide a free monitoring service to the nation by following officers on their beats and recording it on film. The long-running shows are a testimony to the stellar behavior of these officers who bravely serve their communities.
Cowardice Never Pays
A&E has completely misread its viewers’ sentiments. Not only were these episodes of police action popular, but they have proved edifying to a faithful following of millions. The police officers in these shows are objects of admiration, not scorn. Fans are clamoring on social media for the return of the series. They are collecting signatures in the vain hope that A&E will see the light.
A&E’s actions are an example of what happens to firms that surrender to the mob. The company had hoped to impress the public by getting ahead of the issue and canceling the shows. It gave in without any pressure as a testimony to its wokeness. Now it is paying the price of its cowardice.
Its directors should have learned a lesson from the police officers on its shows since they know how to resist pressures and do the right thing.