Netflix has long been pushing the envelope when it comes to its programming. Now, Netflix wants to push that envelope a little further, adding to its original programming for children, the service is introducing interactive "choose-your-own-adventure"-style shows that it calls Kids Interactive Adventure programs.
The shows introduced as Kids Interactive Adventure programs will feature a number of prompts during episodes, letting viewers choose how the story will continue from that point. This creates branch points in the narrative, allowing for a number of different outcomes as you watch. Repeat viewings can choose different options, creating new stories each time. There are a large number of possible tales hidden within each show, since even changing one decision you made previously alters the entire rest of the story going forward.
Netflix announced the new interactive initiative with two programs to start: Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile. Puss in Book spins off from the company's current original series from DreamWorks, Puss in Boots, and will be the first to premiere on the platform. Netflix said in the announcement that children's programming was a natural place to start, though it didn't rule out the possibility of interactive programming for other age groups down the line.
There had been rumors of Netflix going the "choose-your-own-adventure" route for a while, and it does seem like a natural extension of what the company already offers. It remains to be seen just how successful the initiative will be in the long run; it will depend on both how well it's received be audiences and how willing content creators are to generate all of the separate story portions that go in to making a branching storyline feature like this. Whether or not it's successful on a large scale, though, it's definitely a step toward redefining internet-based television beyond what we're used to from traditional TV shows.
Of course, there are bound to be some who aren't impressed by what Netflix is doing here. Some might complain that the options are too limited at first (especially since The Maybe Pile doesn't launch until the middle of July) or that the "pick A or B" branching options will get boring before long. It's a legitimate question as to whether Netflix is launching with too light of a lineup, but hopefully more content creators will sign on if these first two shows are successful.
Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale is available on Netflix now. Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile premieres on July 14, 2017.