Netflix invites viewers to shape story narratives with interactive episodes

Netflix has introduced its first interactive episode that puts viewers in charge of the story by enabling them to shape narratives, as it looks to create a more engaging TV experience for its younger viewers.

The new episode of 'Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale' gives users more than a dozen decision points to explore across "branching narratives." Young viewers may rewatch episodes several times to explore different outcomes, as well as interact with their favourite characters and swipe on their screens.

The plots can be controlled via mobile or smart remote.

Back in March, Netflix confirmed it was working on a 'Choose your Own Adventure' format that would add a new dynamic to its content, giving viewers the ability to see their choices play out in their favourite shows.

"With the younger generation being the most imaginative audience by far, children’s programming was a natural place to start and to break the tradition by stepping into a world of brand new possibilities. Netflix is the first to offer something like this on a larger scale as all titles will be available globally on TV devices and iOS," Netflix said in a release.

"Turning very traditional views of children watching television on its head, this new feature leads the way past passive viewing and encourages children to think, engage and inspire their creativity, in a safe commercial-free environment."

At present, Netflix is calling its interactive episodes an experiment but if the storytelling method proves popular, the format could branch out to shows for adults, bringing interactivity mainstream.

A second interactive episode, for the children’s show Buddy Thunderstruck arrives next month.

It comes during a busy period for the company, earlier today it also emerged that it is trialing personalized pre-roll ads to better promote its own content in the service.

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Robyn Darbyshire

Robyn Darbyshire is a content editor at The Drum, writing and editing across print and digital editions as well as helping to manage production processes. She looks after Creative Works, Trending and Shelf Life in the magazine.

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