"Being an internet-based company enables us to innovate new formats, deliver at scale to millions of members all over the world on multiple device types and, most importantly, learn from it," Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Netflix's director of product innovation, said in a blog post. "The children's programming space was a natural place for us to start since kids are eager to 'play' with their favorite characters and already inclined to tap, touch and swipe at screens." It's worth nothing Netflix had been quietly testing this out, but it wasn't until now that it decided to roll it out to its users worldwide.
At launch, Netflix says the choose-your-own-adventure shows will work on "most" TV experiences and the latest iOS devices, though not its own site. The Apple TV isn't compatible either, nor are Android smartphone or tablets, but support for these platforms could come down the road. Either way, it'll be interesting to use a remote or screen to help your kids determine how they want the story of Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale to play out.
If you've ever played video games like Life is Strange or Telltale's The Walking Dead, where you can control parts of the storyline, Netflix's branching narratives won't feel so unusual. And while it looks like the streaming service is only bringing this to kids programming for now, don't be surprised if the idea expands to other genres in the future. "It's really about finding the right stories -- and storytellers -- that can tell these complex narratives and bring them to life in a compelling way," says Fisher.