Netflix’s New Interactive TV Shows Allow You To Choose What Happens Next

If you were around in the late ‘70s and into the ‘80s, you’ll undoubtedly remember the Choose Your Own Adventure series of children’s books, which allowed readers to make choices about what would happen next, ultimately deciding the characters’ fate. Netflix is perhaps hoping to piggyback on that nostalgia withs its new interactive TV shows.

Netflix is also aiming for kids: It first interactive title — Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale — is available now. It’ll be followed by Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile (July 14), and Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout (2018).

It works a lot like the old CYOA books: Viewers are in control of how the story unfolds, making a series of choices as the narrative progresses that change the outcome. You use your device’s controller to make your decisions, but if you take too long to pick something, Netflix will do it for you.

The interactive shows will be available first on some smart TVs, game consoles, iOS devices, and Roku devices — but not on the web, Apple TV, Chromecast, or Androids devices — at least not yet.

Starting with kids programming was a no-brainer, Netflix notes, since kids are already eager to “play” with their favorite characters, and are used to tapping, touching, and swiping on screens.

“They also talk to their screens, as though the characters can hear them,” Carla Engelbrecht Fisher is Director of Product Innovation at Netflix, notes in a blog post. “Now, that conversation can be two-way.”

The company says it’s already done extensive research — talking to parents and kids — to get data on whether that will help them understand if this is something people will like. While initial feedback has been positive, this appears to be a test of sorts for the idea, as Netflix says it’s “eager to learn how our members will engage in the experience.”