Netflix Adds Interactive Storytelling

Set of kid's titles will feature new ‘branching narrative' that lets viewers select the storyline.
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Set of kid's titles will feature new ‘branching narrative' that lets viewers select the storyline.

Netflix has added a new wrinkle to its streaming library with the debut of an interactive storytelling component for two kid's titles, Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile.

The feature, which borrows a page from the idea behind choose your own adventure books, adds interactive "branching" narrative episodes to the Netflix library, allowing viewers to control how stories unfold.

Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale launches globally on June 20, and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile is set to arrive July 14. A third interactive episode, Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout, will launch on Netflix in 2018.

Netflix will support interactive storytelling on "many newer devices," including smart TVs, several streaming players and gaming consoles, and iOS devices that use the latest version of the Netflix app. The Netflix web site, Android devices, Chromecast and Apple TV boxes don't support the new feature yet, and will fall back to a linear version of the episode that doesn't let viewers choose the storyline.

Netflix is adding this interactive component following "extensive research," with parents telling the OTT giant that they are keen to the idea of having their children have the ability to "make decisions and take a seat in the director's chair, if you will," Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, director of product innovation at Netflix, explains in this blog post, adding that, as an internet company, Netflix has the ability to scale this capability to millions.

Netflix will also keep track of how interactive storytelling resonates with viewers and if it compels them to rewatch episodes in order to uncover all of the various storylines.

Engelbrecht Fisher adds that children's programing offers a "natural place" to start the interactive project, as kids are already eager to "tap, touch and swipe at screens."

Watch this promotional video about the new feature:

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