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A&E Abandons Scripted Programming, Shifts to All-Reality TV Lineup

When Bates Motel closed its doors this week, A&E shut the door on scripted programming, too.

The cable network won’t air any scripted shows going forward, shifting its focus to nonfiction programming only, our sister site Deadline is reporting. Monday’s Bates Motel series finale marks the end of A&E’s scripted efforts after more than a decade of mixed success with original drama series.

Bates Motel‘s five-season run was actually the lengthiest of any A&E scripted original, with popular crime procedurals Longmire and The Glades lasting three seasons each. But other recent efforts — Those Who Kill, The Returned, a revival of CBS’ Unforgettable — tanked after just one season, and the network decided it was time to focus on its strength: namely, reality TV.

“I think Bates Motel was one of the best shows on television,” A&E general manager Rob Sharenow told Deadline, “but to be candid, it was a bit of an outlier on the schedule. There wasn’t an ecosystem of scripted [programming] to support it… I think it was a good time to say, ‘We are going to double down on nonfiction content where we are having a lot of success. The market’s really hungry for it.”

A&E is enjoying its biggest ratings growth in four years thanks to reality shows like Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, 60 Days In and the live police docuseries Live PD, which just got an additional episode order from the network.

Are you mourning A&E’s move away from scripted content? Drop your thoughts in a comment below.