The OA isn’t the latest Netflix series to get the ax, but it might be the most talked about. The sci-fi series has grown a revival campaign akin to something like #SaveTheExpanse (which did end up saving The Expanse). But some fans still wonder why Netflix killed off the show in the first place. According to star Jason Isaacs, it wasn’t viewership numbers, it was something else.
In an interview with RadioTimes, Isaacs shared his thoughts on the August cancellation of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s The OA, leaving the show on a cliffhanger after just two seasons. Netflix typically doesn’t release viewership numbers for its shows—unless they’re something to brag about—but the show seemed to have enough of a following to keep things going. According to Isaacs, the problem wasn’t how many viewers The OA was getting: It was how many people it could get to subscribe to Netflix.
“It’s one of the odd things that happen in the new media world that you’re cancelled not because of numbers, but because of other corporate needs,” he said. “Netflix needs to build subscribers and they make their decisions on a bunch of other things, which are not to do with the number of people watching, more to do with how many people they can get to sign up.”
This is an idea that’s been expressed before. Back in July, former Netflix employees told The Information that the streaming platform judges a show or film’s success based on “a measure of viewership that gives more weight to new subscribers.” This was right around the time Netflix was looking to be more cautious with its spending. After The OA was cancelled in August, BGR surmised that some shows wouldn’t be worth continuing after two seasons—not only because they may not bring in fresh subscribers with the promise of something new, but also because contract renegotiations (which typically happen after a couple of seasons) would increase the overall cost of the show. We’ve reached out to Netflix for additional comment and will update should we hear back.
“I know the Netflix execs who made the decision to cancel it felt equally sad because they had five seasons mapped out and the show has this rabid committed fanbase. Those people felt very upset. I wouldn’t want to be sitting in the Netflix executive chairs,” Isaacs added.
For Netflix, it seems better to entice audiences with new stuff instead of building loyal fanbases with more of the same thing. I sure hope the streamer is getting its money’s worth with Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who were signed to a massive deal just two days after The OA was cancelled. What kind of things are they already working on for Netflix? Today it was announced they’re co-directing a Leslie Jones comedy special. Sounds like a solid use of their time.