A day before Netflix launched its second high-profile choose-your-own-adventure-style project, the Bear Grylls survival series You vs. Wild, reports surfaced that YouTube is opening its own unit dedicated to developing original interactive programming.
The new division will be guided by Ben Relles, who previously oversaw YouTube’s unscripted programming, Bloomberg reports. According to Bloomberg, Relles recently started the job, and is still trying to figure out the best way to implement branching narratives on the YouTube platform. No actual titles have been announced, although the new department will allegedly produce both pre-filmed content and “live events.”
The Google-owned video giant is just the latest company to jump on the interactive media trend, which kicked into high gear after Netflix launched Black Mirror: Bandersnatch in December 2018. Following Bandersnatch‘s massive success, Netflix announced that it will be doubling down on interactive movies and TV shows. You vs. Wild arrives on Netflix on April 10. Future projects could include romance stories or screwball comedies.
Netflix and YouTube aren’t the only players in this game, either. An official Choose Your Own Adventure movie, which will let audience members vote on how the story ends, has been in the works at Fox since 2017, although it’s not clear if that film is still on the slate following Fox’s sale to Disney. In addition, Walmart has invested $250 million into a deal with Eko in an attempt to make interactive content like toy catalogs and cooking shows.
Bloomberg claims that YouTube’s new interactive media initiative comes as part of a larger revamp of the company’s original programming plans, which will see YouTube focusing less on expensive scripted series and more on cheaper content like reality shows, In addition, YouTube Premium will move from a subscription service to an ad-supported one.
Google denies that its original programming is taking a hit, but admits that ads are the future of YouTube Premium, while high-profile projects like Origin and Overthinking With Kat and June have already been cancelled. On the plus side, the rest of YouTube’s content, like those music videos and kids’ cartoons that you love to watch so much, don’t seem to be going anywhere.
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