Netflix ‘pick-the-story’ series will be a royal pain

By Kitty Knowles 6 December 2017

Netflix's personalised TV puts you in charge, but will it be popular?

The future of TV is all about you. But should it be?

Don’t get us wrong. We love that streaming giants like Netflix can recommend us shows based on what we’ve watched.

Even though it potentially limits our movie watching scope, it does make it easier to pick a good movie when your brain feels like mulch.

But what about shows where you choose the ending? Or trailers that are built around your tastes?

TV just got personal, and potentially a bit worse.

Netflix has already made a 'choose your own adventure' for kids based on Puss In Boots. Image: Netflix.

Pick your own ending

First off, Netflix has this week confirmed it wants to make your binge habits more interactive.

This means being able to watch grown-up ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ shows.

Think less ‘Netflix and chill’, and more ‘Netflix and thoughtfully weigh up what you want to happen’.

It’s a move that follows the company’s foray into interactive kids programming earlier this year with an interactive Puss in Boots show.

“Kids are already talking to the screen,” Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Netflix’s director of product innovation said at the time.

Interactive stories were the next logical step.

The kids from Stranger Things. Image: Netflix.

Do you wanna?

The big question for us is – do adults really actually want to interact with their favourite shows?

Netflix hasn’t released the ratings from its kids shows to indicate success, but it’s a fair bet that adults consume content in very different ways, and for different reasons (hungover sofa Sundays anyone?)

Can you imagine how frustrating the FOMO would be, if you kept hearing about alternate endings to Stranger Things you’d missed out on? You could re-watch a show over again to play out different options, but that doesn’t exactly sound fulfilling.

Read more: Meet the man behind FOMO

Many also consider their favourite Netflix show a fine work of art. Would you trust yourself to pick the best storyline?

Unless you’re a screenwriter, we reckon most would wave the option (and pressures) of choice if it meant they knew they’d be treated to the best possible ending.

Netflix isn’t alone, of course. And with the rise of new digital media, we get the allure of experimentation.

20th Century Fox has long been working on a movie that lets audiences choose the ending from their smartphones.

The BBC has already developed personalised interactive cookery shows.

Last month it even released a ‘pick the plot’ radio drama that invites audiences to chat away to their Amazon Echos at home.

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Or certainly not that you should beyond pure novelty…

Read more: Chat to your Amazon Echo for this BBC ‘pick the plot’ radio drama

A still from IBM Watson's horror trailer.

Trailers for you?

Taking the idea of personalisation even further, it’s also rumoured that Netflix is going to start tailoring its trailers to you.

According to The Register, it’s using AI to create teaser clips based on the kind of content you like to watch: if it thinks you’re a sucker for romance, your trailer will focus on the love interest. If it knows you enjoy thrillers, you’ll get added suspense.

If Netflix works out you thrive on trashy action, you could expect to see every explosion and fight scene condensed into just a few seconds.

While unconfirmed, this not a totally new idea. Last year we saw IBM Watson and 20th Century Fox develop artificial intelligence that could pinpoint all the key elements makes a popular thriller movie.

The resulting trailer, Morganought to be the scariest horror movie trailer ever.

If made-to-fit trailers tempt you to see movies you actually like, then great.

But no one wants to be duped into an ill-judged film by an attractive trailer that misrepresents.

The age of personalised TV is coming – don’t expect everyone to like it.

Read more:

WATCH: This horror movie trailer made by IBM Watson