Streaming TV giant Netflix is commissioning a slate of interactive TV shows which allow viewers to choose their own path through an episode.
A forthcoming episode of award-winning scifi anthology series Black Mirror will be Netflix’s first live-action interactive production for adult viewers.
The company has previously trialled a choose-your-own-adventure animated show designed for children, Puss in Book. Similarly, a new animated series based on the popular video game Minecraft is due to be released. The company is also planning at least two other interactive series based on video game titles.
The multiple storylines branching off from the main narrative of Black Mirror will be more complex than the options in the children’s shows, but it remains to be seen just how complicated the episode will be.
Interest is growing in the potential of interactive TV, since the format offers the potential for viewers to watch the same episode several times for the alternative endings. Netflix rival HBO released its first interactive show earlier this year, Mosaic, directed by Steven Soderbergh.
However, the format’s demands on production and budgets increase significantly, in terms of scripting, shooting, editing and payment to talent. The question now is whether interactive TV fiction can go mainstream with audiences to recoup the additional effort and investment.