Reed Hastings, the Netflix founder
Reed Hastings, the Netflix founder

Netflix to produce interactive content for grown-ups

The US producer wants the screen to respond to the viewer’s decisions

Do you remember the “choose your own adventure books?” In order to progress the plot, the reader was given a series of options that moved the story forward in completely different directions: “If you want to go into the shop, turn to page 37. If you want to stay outside, go to page 18”... and so on.

I was completely addicted to them when I was little. I read and reread the books, each time choosing different options to see what would happen until I had exhausted all the different possibilities.

"Kids today are used to touching, talking and interacting with screens. What is new is the screen now responds to their decisions"

For those who might feel nostalgic for those times when they could be one of the main heroes of the story, Netflix could have the answer.

A kid’s game?

In fact, the US video production and streaming company already has a couple of titles like this in its children’s catalogue: Puss in Book: Trapped in an epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck. In both, the child can choose what happens next at certain moments in the storyline.

As Netflix’s director of innovation, Carla Engelbrecht, says, this development in content is natural, as children today are already used to touching, talking to and interacting with screens. What is new is the screen responding to their decisions.

No distractions

What we do not know is how this might work in a format for adults. Netflix never publishes viewing figures for its content, even though the fact that they want to go ahead with this experiment suggests that, at least where children are concerned, the trial has had some success.

"Unlike mobile devices, television has shown itself to be a passive medium"

It is a risky proposal. So far, unlike mobile devices, television has shown itself to be a passive medium, and just about all the initiatives to make it interactive have failed.

Do you remember Samsung’s first SmartTV, which allowed you to superimpose a Twitter hashtag on the images on the screen? We soon found out that viewers did not want any distractions on the screen while watching. Yet, the possibility of taking part in the story is what could prove to be –and Netflix never goes into these things blind– another success for the company.


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