Sugar Puffs or Frosties?
It's the first in a series of choices viewers are confronted with as they navigate Netflix's hit interactive film "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch." It also gives Netflix unprecedented access to very specific viewer data that could become a revenue gold mine for the streaming giant in the future, according to recent reports.
Quick facts about "Bandersnatch": Set in London during the 1980s, "Bandersnatch" follows 19-year-old developer Stefan as he attempts to create a choose-your-own-adventure video game.
- Viewers participate in their own choose-your-own-adventure experience by using their remotes, mice or trackpads to select different storyline options as the show progresses.
- Some choices present difficult moral dilemmas while others seem like mundane red herrings, like what cereal Stefan should eat (like Sugar Puffs or Frosties).
However: According to The Verge, Netflix could use even the smallest viewer decision to steer choices in the writer's room, deploy tailored, programmatic product placement and mine data that could be invaluable for potential brand partners.
Netflix data collection isn't new: The service's recommendation algorithms are fine-tuned to the viewing patterns of users. Netflix has also experimented with the choose-your-own-adventure format before.
However: "Bandersnatch" introduces several new elements that could change the face of streaming advertisement, including first-of-its-kind tracking software called "Branch Manager" that Netflix created with "Bandersnatch" writer Charlie Brooker.Comment on this story
- The Hollywood Reporter described this tool: "The final product — which looks like islands of flowcharts that branch out to include series of if-then options — creates an infinite number of variations to the story because of the 'state tracking' technology that tracks viewer choices as the experience progresses."
- The Netflix team is calling "Branch Manager" technology "revolutionary" and they plan on using it for all future interactive projects.
What that means for viewers: In the future, our streaming services may not only cater shows to our interests but subliminally cater products and brands to them.
If that sounds vaguely like a talking point of a "Black Mirror" episode, it's probably because we're on our way.