YouTube Has Plans for Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Shows--But Don't Expect BandersnatchApr 11, 2019
Well, folks, it appears the inevitable choose-your-own-adventure-style YouTube programming may soon be coming to a channel near you.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that YouTube will designate a new team to the interactive programming. This is, as you might have guessed, a money-making initiative that Bloomberg said is intended to boost views and ad revenue for the Google subsidiary. And while various forms of interactive content have existed on the platform for some time now, YouTube's Global Head of Original Programming Susanne Daniels said in a statement that the company now has "amazing new tools and opportunities to create and tell multilayered and interactive stories."
Ben Relles, who previously led the company's Unscripted programming division, has been appointed the head of innovation for YouTube Originals. Relles will focus on interactive content and live specials and will report to Daniels, YouTube told Gizmodo by email.
The Hollywood Reporter broke news in November that Netflix was looking to scale back its scripted original content starting next year, with sources telling the magazine that the company was looking at "a serious budget reduction." According to Bloomberg, however, Netflix still plans to announce a lineup of new projects in the coming weeks. So it appears the company has not given up completely on originals.
That YouTube is pursuing choose-your-own-adventure-style shows just months after Netflix made the medium a viral success with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch comes as little surprise. The project was such a resounding success that Netflix quickly seized on the opportunity to pump out more stories in a similar format. The Bear Grylls interactive series You vs. Wild, as one example, will hit the streaming platform this week.
Here's the thing though: Bandersnatch was sort of the perfect guinea pig for Netflix's foray into the realm of interactive storytelling. Netflix already knew its viewers loved the Black Mirror series, offering something close to a guaranteed audience and especially so considering its novel format. Be that as it may, it makes sense that some of Netflix's competitors would explore similar formats in an attempt to up their own revenues and viewerships.
Given YouTube's track record with original content, however, it's pretty difficult to see YouTube yielding the same results.