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Netflix is reportedly experimenting with interactive TV shows for adults

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Netflix is bringing interactive storytelling to more of its original programming, Bloomberg reports. The streaming service is apparently producing a choose-your-own-adventure-style TV show for adults, similar to its already-available interactive children’s programming.

This past June, Netflix premiered Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, an animated series that allowed viewers to make decisions about where the story would go and how it would end. The animated Netflix original Buddy Thunderstruck also featured a few interactive episodes, specifically designed to play off the psychology of viewers who would seek out interactive entertainment. Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Netflix’s director of product innovation, was a motivating force behind the experiments. The founder of the game design firm No Crusts Interactive, Fisher said in June that interactivity is a natural development for children’s programming: “Kids are already talking to the screen. They’re touching every screen. They think everything is interactive.”

But it remains to be seen how well that impulse translates to adult viewers. Past attempts at adult-focused interactive entertainment have largely been novelties that struggled to find an audience. Netflix needs to figure out whether adults actually want interactive television shows, and how they react to interactivity differently from children. And because the company doesn’t release viewership numbers, it’s unclear how popular the Puss in Book or Buddy Thunderstruck experiments were.

The current choose-your-own-adventure offerings on Netflix are only controllable on certain platforms like smart TVs, Roku devices, and iOS devices, not on the web or Apple TV. Netflix hasn’t released any plot or premiere date information about the new interactive series yet.