A while ago, Netflix released Bandersnatch as a teaser for the forthcoming fifth season of Black Mirror. The episode, a choose-your-own-adventure interactive program where viewers can make decisions that influence the overall story, is one of the very few interactive content to come out in recent years.
Expect more shows similar to Bandersnatch to come out shortly — YouTube has confirmed that it's investing in interactive shows, as well. The projects will be put under a new unit solely for interactive programming and live specials, a spokesperson for YouTube said. Ben Relles, YouTube's former head of unscripted programming, will head this new division.
YouTube Planning Interactive Shows
According to them, the series in development will focus primarily on the element of interactivity. YouTube will also integrate some product feature onto scripted and unscripted original shows. The company plans to announce some of the initial projects soon.
"We now have amazing new tools and opportunities to create and tell multilayered and interactive stories," said Susanne Daniels, head of original programming. "Ben has an intuitive and experienced understanding of how the platform can enhance content, making him the perfect choice to develop this exciting new division."
YouTube Had Interactive Shows Once
YouTube is no stranger to interactivity. In fact, it has always been integrated within the platform in many ways even back in the early years. With annotations — now defunct, sadly — users were able to input links to other videos, and some cleverly used this tactic to make interactive content. Who Wants To Be A YouTubillionaire, uploaded by Dan Brown in 2009, is one example.
YouTube also used to test interactive ads, and now that it's rethinking its plans for original content, interactivity seems the most sensical choice for the platform. The company recently canceled a handful of big-budget projects. It will announce a fresh slate of shows at an event due in a few weeks.
Netflix's Interactive Content
Netflix had previously experimented with interactive shows in the past, but only for programs made specifically for children, such as Minecraft: Story Mode. Bandersnatch was its first attempt to introduce a choose-your-own-adventure style of storytelling to a wider audience. The standalone episode highlighted just how successful the format could be. So successful, in fact, that it's expanding the slate with You vs. Wild, a reality survival series starring Bear Grylls, out April 10.
Do you think interactive shows on YouTube would be a good idea? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below if you have any thoughts!