The S.W.A.T. team will be deployed no more, now that CBS has cancelled the Friday-night cop drama after six seasons.
Inspired by the 1975 TV series and the feature film, S.W.A.T., starring Shemar Moore, was the most established — and most expensive — CBS scripted series still on the bubble. Its demise illustrates the harsh economic realities of the broadcast business as S.W.A.T. has done what was asked of it this season — it has been a rare TV series to rise in linear viewership year-to-year by double digits following its move to Fridays, where the drama has flourished. It may be the most watched broadcast series to get the axe this season.
A co-production between Sony Pictures TV and CBS Studios, S.W.A.T. had gone from a string of early renewals up until last year to a cancellation.
That is because CBS and lead studio Sony TV could not come to a financial agreement, I hear. As Deadline reported last month, those early renewals the last few years had came with the network keeping the license fee unchanged, which had put more and more pressure on the budget and further squeezed the show’s profit margins as costs increase every year. Sony was not willing to go for another renewal at a flat license fee as that would compromise the show’s financial model.
I hear CBS eventually went up on the license fee but the offer came with a cut of the order, which would’ve pushed up the per-episode budget even higher and further hurt the show’s economics. The two sides were in negotiations til the end but the gap between them remained, leading to today’s cancellation. (From what I hear, finding a new home for S.W.A.T. elsewhere appears unfeasible.)
Additionally, CBS just screened its two drama pilots Matlock and Elsbeth, both of which were received very well, giving the network more leeway on its bubble series, which also include freshman dramas East New York, whose renewal negotiations have been progressing, and True Lies, whose prospects appear dim.
“For six seasons, the amazing talents of the S.W.A.T. cast led by Shemar Moore, the writers, producers and crew guided by Executive Producers Shawn Ryan, Andy Dettman and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas brought us compelling, action packed episodes that also addressed important social issues and contributed to the success of our primetime line up,” said Amy Reisenbach, president of CBS Entertainment. “We sincerely thank them for their incredible work and passion and also thank our dedicated fans who tuned in every week.”
In its current sixth season, S.W.A.T. has contributed to reinvigorating CBS’ Friday drama lineup where it helped launch new breakout hit Fire Country as the two series joined long-time anchor Blue Bloods. Of the three dramas, S.W.A.T. is the only one that didn’t make it to next season. (It also is the only one not fully owned by CBS.)
“From a ratings perspective, it’s a no-brainer to pick it up, the show is a big hit for CBS,” exec producer/showrunner Ryan, who also has new hit Netflix series The Night Agent, told Deadline in March. ” We live in this weird age now where economic conversations take place and take precedence over what viewers really want to watch on their screens, and hopefully Sony and CBS work out the details to bring it back because I know the fans want to.”
In S.W.A.T., Moore stars as a former Marine and locally born and raised S.W.A.T. sergeant tasked to run a specialized tactical unit that is the last stop in law enforcement in Los Angeles. Torn between loyalty to where he was raised and allegiance to his brothers in blue, Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson strives to bridge the divide between his two worlds.
Alex Russell, Jay Harrington, Kenny Johnson, David Lim, Patrick St. Esprit and Rochelle Aytes also star. Shawn Ryan, Justin Lin, Neal Moritz, Marney Hochman, Pavun Shetty, Billy Gierhart, Andy Dettman and Paul Bernard executive produce.
Here is the storyline for S.W.A.T.‘s finale, written by Brandon Margolis & Brandon Sonnier and directed by Billy Gierhart.
“Legacy” – The team works with the DEA and their iron-jawed leader, Mack Boyle (guest star Timothy Hutton), to stop a ruthless cartel boss waging war on the streets of Los Angeles as he exacts revenge on those who killed his son, on part two of the sixth season finale of S.W.A.T., Friday, May 19 on CBS.