YouTube developing ‘Bandersnatch’-style choice-based programming

Rolling Stone

According to a new report from Bloomberg, YouTube is currently at work developing choose-your-own-outcome programs, similar to the Black Mirror episode “Bandersnatch,” which made its debut on Netflix at the end of 2018.

In addition to “Bandersnatch”-style videos — shot and edited before release — there could also be live programming with choice-based features, which would be something we’ve never seen before, at least not at this level of sophistication.

YouTube reportedly created a new unit that will develop the interactive programming and live specials, led by Ben Relles, who had previously been overseeing unscripted programs.

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“We now have amazing new tools and opportunities to create and tell multilayered and interactive stories,” Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s head of original programming, said in a statement. “Ben has an intuitive and experienced understanding of how the platform can enhance content, making him the perfect choice to develop this exciting new division.”

Netflix is usually coy about releasing viewership stats, but we do know that it is currently developing more interactive programming, which suggests “Bandersnatch” was a success. We also know that Walmart is investing in interactive programming, and its likely Google wants YouTube to get in ahead of this new trend.

In “Bandersnatch,” one of the first choices the viewer has to make is which type of cereal the lead character should eat for breakfast. The two cereals featured in that episode no longer exist (the film is set in the 80s), but it is likely YouTube could use similar in-movie choices as advertisements for current products, blurring the line even more between art and commerce.

This news from Bloomberg comes on the back of a recent reveal that YouTube is significantly scaling back its slate of traditional original programming. This could be why.

NEXT: YouTube execs reportedly ignored employee warnings about toxic videos

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