Did Netflix Pick Up Zoo Season 4?
One of the most wonderful things about the new era of TV series is that there are so many great new shows that come out. One of the terrible things about it is that shows often end up being canceled before they complete their story arcs, sometimes even ending on a cliffhanger that is never resolved. One such tragic end appears to have come for the show “Zoo”, originally airing on CBS. “Zoo” first aired on June 30, 2015, and ran for 39 episodes in 3 seasons before the show was abruptly canceled on October 23, 2017, just a month after the final episode aired.
The Series Summary
“Zoo” was an interesting and innovative thriller, centering on an expert zoologist, Jackson Oz (James Wolk). Oz begins the show working as a safari guide, and he begins to notice that the animals are becoming strangely aggressive. He begins investigating the cause, as the attacks against humans become more violent and better-coordinated. Oz is joined on his quest by fellow safari guide Abraham Kenyatta (Nonso Anozie), journalist Jamie Campbell (Kristen Connolly), veterinarian Dr. Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke), and French intelligence agent Chloe Tousignant (Nora Arnezeder). Other regular cast members included Alyssa Diaz, Josh Salatin, and Gracie Dzenny.
The original basis for “Zoo” was a novel of the same name written by James Patterson (who also served as an executive producer on the show) and Michael Ledwidge, although the series quickly moved past the events of the novel and began covering new plot elements. The series was written by Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner, Andre Nemec, and Josh Appelbaum.
The ongoing plot for “Zoo” was rather intricate and at times absurd. During the first season, the team travels the world trying to find an antidote for the virus that has infected the animals, causing their strange behavior. They believe they have developed the cure, but it turns out that the virus has mutated and the animals have gone berserk all over the world. In the second and third seasons, they encounter a wide variety of new and strange creatures, such as a 70-foot snake that can turn invisible, burrowing ostrich-vultures, razorback wolves, and a wooly mammoth-rhinoceros hybrid. The events of the series became more and more bizarre, with Jackson seeming to fall into insanity, becoming able to control animals telepathically, and more.
The series ends on a cliffhanger, with a threat of a zombie apocalypse added to the animal apocalypse already going on.
The Initial Run
“Zoo” initially ran on CBS for three seasons, airing Tuesdays at 10 pm. “Zoo” was initially slotted as a replacement for “Under the Dome” in 2015, another sci-fi-themed show which was itself canceled in 2014 after three seasons. The show initially ran on CBS for three seasons. It premiered back in the summer of 2015 with a 13-episode opening season, which aired between June 30 and September 15. Airing Tuesdays at 10pm, the show replaced the network’s surprise sci-fi hit “Under the Dome”, which was canceled in 2014 after three years on the air.
Season two of “Zoo” ran from June 28 to September 6, 2016, with 13 new episodes, and the final two episodes were shown back-to-back in a special two-hour slot. The third and final season, again with 13 episodes, was broadcast from June 29 to September 21, 2017 on CBS. As noted, the show was then canceled by CBS about a month after the final cliffhanger episode aired.
Netflix and Amazon Battle
When Zoo first premiered, Amazon and Netflix fought for the rights to the series. After a fierce struggle, Netflix won and became CBS’s exclusive video-on-demand partner for “Zoo”. The deal was that Netflix would get access to each season only after all 13 episodes were aired on CBS. Netflix also got the rights to stream the series in more than 50 countries around the world, and as of February 2019 “Zoo” is still available for streaming on Netflix. (Looking for something else to watch on Netflix? Check out this review of great shows on Netflix right now, or this list of binge-worthy programs.)
“Zoo” started out fairly strong (there was a reason Netflix and Amazon got into a dustup over the show), averaging 6.4 million viewers per episode and a 1.06 rating in the key 18-49 demographic during the first season. The first episode had around 8.1 million viewers, although that dropped to 4.8 million viewers by the season finale.
Those ratings slumped further in the second season, which opened with 5.1 million viewers and ended with 4.2 million viewers. The season average dropped from 6.40 to 4.40 million viewers and an average rating of 0.74 in the key demographic.
As the original core viewers (perhaps alienated and confused by the increasingly weird plot twists) dropped away, the downward trend continued throughout the third season, which opened with just under 3 million viewers and closed with 2.8 million viewers. The season average was 2.65 million viewers with a 0.51 rating in the coveted 18-49 demo.
“Zoo” had a downward path that simply was never interrupted. After its strong start, the show never was able to regain its momentum, almost halving its audience the first season. The second season didn’t lose much ground, but the third season was a disaster, and the steady decline in the numbers fed industry speculation that the show was on the bubble and being considered for cancellation. That industry buzz proved correct; even though “Zoo” eked out a third-season renewal, the numbers were simply terrible and the third season episodes never beat the 3 million viewer mark; the third season’s tenth episode hit an all-time low of 2.03 million, and even the much-anticipated season finale only reached 2.8 million. The cancellation in October of 2017 was disappointing to true believers and the show’s die-hard fans, but not to anyone else.
Will There Be a Season 4?
Rumors have swirled ever since the cancellation that Netflix might pick up “Zoo” for a fourth season. The video streaming service is always hungry for content, and shows like “Zoo” with a built-in audience can be attractive for the network, which has resurrected a few dead series in the past. Netflix already the exclusive video-on-demand rights for the series, and the fact that the third season ended in a cliffhanger seemed to many people to create a natural entry point for a renewal. An online petition was even created by the fans.
Despite the rumors and speculations, Netflix remained silent on the subject. One problem is that “Zoo” was a show heavily based on CGI, and while the costs of special effects have definitely dropped in recent decades, creating 70-foot invisible snakes and rhinoceros monsters isn’t cheap. With only a couple of million people willing to tune in by the end of the series, Netflix probably simply didn’t see any money on the table for a fourth season. That said, the future of the series remains uncertain, as there is still no official announcement from Netflix either way.
The other significant issue blocking a resurrection of “Zoo” is that important cast members have already moved on. James Wolk is starring in CBS’ new thriller “Tell Me A Story”, which was recently renewed for a second season. Alyssa Diaz is playing the female lead on ABC’s “The Rookie”, while Billy Burke is pursuing a movie career.
All in all, the odds seem stacked against a season 4 for “Zoo”.
There are so many shows today that every series faces fierce competition for an audience, and while the expansion of the medium has permitted a lot of new stories and ideas to reach production, the true king of Hollywood is and always will be the bottom line. Shows have to attract enough of an audience to pay for themselves, and “Zoo”, like many other original and interesting programs, simply wasn’t able to measure up. Shows with high viewership and ratings get renewed, while the others get canned. Although it still had stories to tell, “Zoo” suffered from poor ratings for much of its run, which eventually resulted in its cancellation. A rebirth seems unlikely, although not impossible.
(TechJunkie keeps tabs on a lot of the cancelled shows that Netflix, Amazon Prime, or other services might pick up. For example, we cover whether anyone is going to give Last Man on Earth another season, and we do the same for Luther, Dark Matter, Grimm, and many more.)