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Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders reality show is gone from CMT, but stay tuned

‘Making the Team’ is no more, but as the cheerleaders seek a new platform, observers say they’re likely to find one.

The split between the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team reality show and Country Music Television still hasn’t added up, and with no one talking, it remains a mystery.

What we know: The long-running show’s popularity — it has millions of social media followers and continues to gain acclaim — suggests it will find a platform, either on traditional television or a streaming service. A Cowboys spokesman would not comment on what’s next, but acknowledged that talks are continuing.

In late March, the Cowboys announced in a press release that the cheerleaders “look forward to continuing the exclusive journey with ‘America’s Sweethearts’ on a new platform” and cited no additional details about a split. CMT has not responded to emailed requests for comment.

“My hope is to continue their stories with our fans more globally, as we are in the process of negotiating a new partnership and we look forward to continuing to feature the DCC on a new platform,” Kelli Finglass, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders director, said in the press release.

Although CMT did not publicly acknowledge the show’s departure in March, Making the Team crew members reportedly received a text message telling them the show was not being renewed.

Dallas journalist Sarah Hepola, who produced an eight-episode podcast series about the cheerleaders called America’s Girls for Texas Monthly, also received a text message from showrunner Peter Sazuly confirming the non-renewal.

“It was a real surprise for the people that worked on the CMT show,” Hepola said. “They were very shocked by it. Given that it was a regular gig for a lot of them, that was very disappointing. This was something that they relied on to pay their bills, and suddenly it was gone.”

Hepola said she was also “very surprised because CMT has repeatedly touted that show as their longest-running and most popular show. They don’t have a lot of marquee titles — and this is the one they really had.

“I just couldn’t figure out how CMT would decide to cut strings on a show that was pretty plug-and-play.”

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders hopefuls perform in final auditions at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders hopefuls perform in final auditions at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.(Andy Jacobsohn / Staff Photographer)

Who left who and why have become the biggest questions after the split.

A few days before the announcement, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones addressed a confidential $2.4 million settlement paid to four cheerleaders in May 2016 over accusations of voyeurism by a team executive and a suit filed by congressional aide Alexandra Davis, who claimed Jones was her biological father. Davis dropped the suit in April.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh, the Cowboys have decided to close ranks here because it’s looking like a pretty rocky offseason at this point,’” Hepola said. “We’ve got scandals breaking, we’ve got gossip running around, you know. It might just not be the time to have reality show cameras lurking around — which made total sense to me. But of course, I never heard confirmation of that.”

Steve Carbone, the Frisco-based blogger known as Reality Steve, theorized it was a CMT decision, but “that story has kind of died down, and it’s not like a show would really focus on that at all or bring it up.

“[But] controversy creates cash, and I don’t see that as a deterrent for a streaming service.”

CMT had aired the program since 2006. Produced by Los Angeles-based Triage Entertainment, the series follows 36 cheerleader prospects from the first day of auditions through a months-long training camp. Throughout 16 seasons, it became CMT’s most popular and longest-running series, according to the release.

The cheerleaders have evolved into an institution since 1972. They embrace their civic identity and raise money for charity and give their time to causes. They have a vast following and have endured controversies from the 1980s into the 2000s.

Fans can still keep up with the cheerleaders — nearly anywhere. Their website keeps fans apprised of what’s new with the team. The cheerleaders have a Facebook page, which has more than a million followers, and are featured on a CMT-managed Facebook page, which also has more than a million members. The team’s other social-media accounts number hundreds of thousands of followers. The CMT cheerleaders program is available to stream on Paramount+ on Amazon Prime.

On the cheerleaders’ CMT Facebook fan page, several followers have expressed bewilderment about the show’s absence but remain hopeful that another platform will pick it up.

Wendy L. Patrick, a media commentator and behavioral analyst, said it’s not surprising a reality show about cheerleaders resonates with viewers, calling the show the “perfect mix of fantasy non-fiction.

“Rooting for characters that showcased both talent and tenacity, viewers related to the vulnerability that comes with competition, evoking a sense of both identification and admiration,” Patrick said.

Even as it has gone dark, the series is being recognized. In June, the show was nominated for Best Sports Show at the Critics Choice Real TV Awards. Making the Team lost to Cheer, a Netflix sports docuseries filmed primarily in Corsicana.

Cheer depicts the Navarro College cheer team. So, the interest for a series on cheerleading — in Texas no less — is apparently still out there.

Carbone said a taker is imminent. He predicted Hulu, HBO Max or Discovery+ as likely candidates.

“With a 16-year run on CMT, and now needing a new home, and with so many different streaming platforms out there, I can’t imagine that they couldn’t find another home,” Carbone said.

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