Netflix 'Doubling Down' on Interactive TV Shows, Unclear if Any Will Be Available on Apple TV

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Netflix plans to output even more interactive television shows similar to the Black Mirror episode "Bandersnatch", but it's unclear as of now if any of these will work on the Apple TV. Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin announced the company's intent to make more interactive content at a conference in Mumbai today (via Variety).


These shows, and potentially movies, will extend beyond the science fiction setting of Black Mirror and could even include romances, comedies, and more, where the audience gets to choose the outcome. Yellin said that the output of these stories will increase over the next two years.

“[Bandersnatch] is a huge hit here in India, it’s a huge hit around the world, and we realized, wow, interactive storytelling is something we want to bet more on,” Yellin said. “We’re doubling down on that. So expect over the next year or two, to see more interactive storytelling. And it won’t necessarily be science fiction, or it won’t necessarily be dark. It could be a wacky comedy. It could be a romance, where the audience gets to choose, should she go out with him or him.”

When "Bandersnatch" released in December 2018, Apple device users had to watch the episode on an iPhone, iPad, or web browser to get the full experience. When selected on the Netflix ‌Apple TV‌ app, a brief apology video would play and point users toward the correct device with which they could watch the episode.

Despite being unavailable on ‌Apple TV‌, "Bandersnatch" can be viewed on TV streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Android TV. Netflix has launched interactive TV shows before, including "Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale" and "Minecraft: Story Mode." While some of these kids' shows are playable on ‌Apple TV‌, like Puss in Book, they are linear versions that automatically choose the outcomes for you.

Others, like Minecraft, display an apology message on ‌Apple TV‌ and ask you to visit a supported device to watch the show. Although the ‌Apple TV‌ remote lacks the more complex controls provided by game consoles, computers, and smart TVs, it's unclear why Netflix hasn't figured out a way to get these shows to work on the ‌Apple TV‌ with the Siri Remote.

Still, this isn't the first time Netflix has been at odds with an Apple platform or service, as the streaming company continues to resist support for Apple's TV app. We've reached out to Netflix regarding future support for its interactive shows on the ‌Apple TV‌, and will update this article if they provide a comment.

Tag: Netflix

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
21 months ago
A Netflix engineering manager commented on the issues regarding implementing such interactive TV shows on the Apple TV:

"I can’t get into all the reasons around this, but Bandersnatch and other interactive titles on iOS are indeed built with AVFoundation and UIKit. Branching playlists are not supported by Apple’s APIs, so the implementation we have to achieve seamless playback is non-trivial."

https://twitter.com/stroughtonsmith/status/1079471892946391040

Edit: corrected role
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago
I love Black Mirror, but I haven't watched Bandersnatch yet because watching tv shows on my iPhone or computer is annoying and reminds me of air travel, which is bad.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago
Bandersnatch was terrible. The “plot” was boring and unoriginal.

Interactive movies have existed for decades and they’ve always been a gimmick. Bandersnatch was no different.

Just invest in traditional shows and cut out the filler that Netflix Originals are starting to become known for and the service will succeed. Invest all your money in gimmicks and B tier shows and it will flounder.

Your move Netflix.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago
It still won't work on Apple TV?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago
That's disappointing that it's still not Apple TV. I haven't watched it yet but would like to. I'm not going to watch on a tablet or phone though.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
21 months ago
Netflix is one of the most user hostile software service going. They treat their users like crap. Judge them but what they do, not what they say. I hold Apple to the same standard. Stop talking and show me.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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