Netflix Lets Kids Take Control Of Storytelling With Interactive Programming

Netflix has just launched its first interactive TV programming that allows kids to choose how the story will proceed. The interactive feature has been in development for almost two years.

According to Netflix, content creators want to tell non-linear stories, where viewers can choose between two branching narratives. They have been studying two beloved and adventurous characters, Puss in Boots and Buddy Thunderstruck, with the objective of pushing the boundaries of storytelling and audience engagement.

The Netflix team has been working with kids and parents, collecting qualitative data to understand what viewers may like. According to their study, parents like that their children can have the chance to make decisions on how the story will progress. Some of the choices being, which is more popular, the mean bears or the friendly bears? Will Puss choose to fight the evil queen or would he rather kiss her?

Aside from getting to choose the story direction, children can also talk to the screen as if the characters can hear them. With this project, Netflix aims to bring complex narratives to life in a compelling way.

First to globally launch is Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, featuring Puss from Shrek fame. In the story, Puss is stuck in a book of fairy tales, and he must get through a number of challenges. Should Puss venture into the world of Snow White? Should Goldilocks’ bears be friendly or fierce?

Netflix Interactive launched with its first interactive program Puss in Books.
[Image by Netflix]

Next to be released is Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, set for July 14. According to Variety, the story is based on an American Greetings produced Netflix original featuring a truck-racing dog and his pet ferret. Kids will be given the freedom to choose between a number of stunts that will likely go horribly wrong. For next year, a third title, Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout is expected to be released as well.

The interactive adventures will allow its viewers 10 to 15 seconds to decide which adventure or direction to pick. These can be controlled by the TV remote or game controller, or if watched on a tablet, viewers can simply touch the screen. For those who would rather sit back and let the story unfold on its own, Netflix will make the choice and continue with the story.


“This is very different for Netflix. Not only did the company have to tweak some of its back-end technology to integrate interactive content into its catalog, Netflix and its studio partners also had to figure out how to best tell these kinds of stories,” said Netflix Director of Product Innovation Carla Engelbrecht Fisher during her interview with Variety.

For now, there are no plans for Netflix to bring this kind of programming to live-action shows, but they might experiment with more advanced forms of interactivity or other content genres in the future.

Netflix Interactive is available on smart TV platforms and iOS devices.

[Featured Image by Netflix]