Netflix is reportedly experimenting with interactive TV shows for adults

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.


Just imagine… Interactive Arrested Development

When Arrested Development S4 came to Netflix, I remember Reed Hastings made a comment about being able to interact with the new episodes in different order, to connect timelines and character sequences… I don’t think that ever materialized, but I loved the idea of how dense that season was, and instead of just watching an episode straight through, being able to visit the continuation of that scene in another context from another episode, viewing it in chronological order instead of the character-centric episodes.

I am already a completist and have a hard time letting go of shows that I don’t even particularly enjoy anymore. So if they end up making interactive shows I will probably end up watching every possible storyline. No thanks.

First thought was, "What?!? Netflix does pron now?"

You open the door for the pizza man. Choose your option:
1) Lure the pizza man in
2) Tip the pizza man and take pizza
3) Flip off the pizza man since you did not get what you ordered.

Choose 3)
1 hour long movie turns into 5 minutes

I think they should have a go at comedies first, like Brooklyn 99, they have more freedom since any quirky hi-jinx can be a viable option. The plot in them is somewhat secondary to the jokes.

This reminds me of a family guy joke, "press 1 to see brian play the cucarachas" or something like that.

Netflix is a great site which doesn’t stop to develop. Congratulations

guess they are picking up telltale

"And because the company doesn’t release viewership numbers, it’s unclear how popular the Puss in Book or Buddy Thunderstruck experiments were."

if they announce they are making them now for adults, I bet it’s huge.

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