Netflix experimenting with interactive storylines, report says

Netflix corporate headquarters
Netflix is looking for ways to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

Netflix is experimenting with interactive original content that would let viewers dictate which alternate storyline they view, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reports.

The London paper quotes Netflix CEO Reed Hastings as saying, “Once you have got interactivity you can try anything.” Netflix, the report said, is seeking a Facebook-level of user data and is hoping to learn more about subscriber preferences. 

The report also includes an anonymous source, who said, “We’re doing work on branch narratives so you are actually making choices as you watch. All the content will be there, and then people will have to get through it in different ways … We’ll see how it plays out. It’s an experiment. We’ll see if it gets much success. For creators, it’s new territory.’

Netflix reps didn’t immediately respond to FierceCable’s inquire for comment and confirmation. 

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So how might it work? The Daily Mail suggests that viewers of the aging Netflix original Orange Is the New Black might get to decide if an inmate character in the women’s prison drama joins a gang or not. Or, viewers could dictate which romantic relationships Princess Margaret pursues in The Crown.

The concept of alternate storylines isn’t new. The narrative technique was effectively deployed in the Choose Your Own Adventure children’s book series of the 1980s, as well as during the CD-ROM era of the 1990s. 

Besides wanting to know more about its subscribers, Netflix is looking for ways to stand out in an increasingly crowded market for delivering over-the-top video.