In October 2016 Netflix debuted ‘Black Mirror’ which had previously run on UK Channel 4 for 2 seasons. With the benefit of Netflix’s broad reach, the cult science fiction anthology show became a critically lauded worldwide phenomenon, drawing comparisons to The ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘The Outer Limits’.
Roll forward… launching just before NY 2019 in lieu of a fifth traditional season, Black Mirror ‘Bandersnatch’ is an interactive event set in 1984 blurring the lines between gaming and film, interactive from the get-go allowing the audience to forge their own narrative. Bandersnatch is the first ‘choose your own’ format to deliver such a mainstream audience. Social media lit up within hours of the debut, featuring memes and posts discussing viewer choices. The starting choice presented is a selection of real cereal brands sparking industry conversation on the prospect of programmatic product placement. Others have highlighted the potential for data capture, where choices made within the experience could inform platform content suggestions, stylised CRM or even be on-sold to third parties.
The Media Store Take
While it is still too early to predict the full implications and capabilities of this format, in the shadow of a Disney Fox merger and with traditional networks and studios (Warners, CBS) making large strides into the streaming space, Netflix is continuing to innovate and fend off competition. By investing billions of dollars into content acquisition and developing a stable of engaging IP, Netflix will continue to rival its traditionally based competitors.