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Audiences in the driver’s seat

As the OTT landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, we are seeing further innovation and interactivity being applied to video streaming experiences.

With the show, Bear Grylls’ next Adventure in the Wild guesting actor Ranveer Singh set to stream on July 8, interactive content will push over-the-top (OTT) video streaming market to its next phase of growth. Grylls is known in India for his show Man vs Wild that featured Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. At several points along Ranveer’s adventure, viewers will be given two options on how the plot and character arcs move ahead, thus shaping the narrative.

Globally, Netflix is known for interactive shows like Trivia Quest, Headspace: Unwind Your Mind and Battle Kitty and films like Cat Burglar, Boss Baby: Get that Baby and Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal.

Netflix applies interactive storytelling to popular titles allowing users to make choices for characters that shape the story as a title progresses, with each choice leading to a different adventure. By giving people the power and freedom to shape their own interactive experience, Netflix has created an extremely fun and engaging way to experience the Netflix platform that not only attracts new users, but helps to reduce that all important churn rate.

Throughout these interactive stories, users are given a short time limit to make a decision to move the story forward, and while these experiences are extremely engaging, they can come with their challenges. For example, selecting options that lead to dead-ends, or selections that don’t impact the story in any meaningful way, can make the experience feel relatively trivial and unnecessary. Without dramatically increasing the length and cost of production to make richer storylines with alternative endings, it seems this type of interactive content is purely a novelty for the time being.

Sport lends itself extremely well to this type of experience. Whether it’s dedicated fans demanding every statistic and wanting the option to re-watch match plays and tactics, to the more casual viewer who feels that these new features enhance their experience and make it easier and more enjoyable to follow, there’s something for everyone.

In recent times, we have seen a rapid rise in the usage of fitness apps that offer live workout classes, workout plans, nutrition advice and wellness plans that people can engage with from the comfort of their own homes.

Kids programming and the incorporation of interactive storytelling mechanics within this have proven to be extremely popular. Children have become used to engaging with interactive media across a range of devices such as iPads, smartphones and voice technologies.

In recent times, children are now becoming accustomed to the interactivity that they’re used to, but on the big screen. As we see voice controls continuing to grow in popularity across OTT, we can no doubt expect to see a future of interactive kids TV shows that can be powered through voice controls. With 70 percent of US adults regularly using another digital device while watching TV, it’s apparent that there’s a huge opportunity for Connected TV applications to tap into these devices to help reach new audiences.

For example, Connected TV applications could look to provide users with a voting experience via their smartphone, such as who will be the winning team in a sports match, or taking part in an interactive gameshow. Whether it’s through deep linking to upsell products, subscriptions or to provide additional information, this clearly a fruitful market for Connected TV apps to invest in. Interactive video in the form of AVOD (Advertising Video On Demand) is an incredibly powerful tool.

It’s great to see interactivity become more deeply integrated into video playback, and while some levels of interactivity may feel gimmicky or unnecessary, other examples create a far richer, immersive experience, and one that benefits viewers and OTT providers alike.

Its apparent that OTT services are putting users at the heart of the action more than ever before. Through a wide range of interactive features that create memorable experiences, we are seeing new standards set across the industry, with the future of OTT looking extremely exciting.

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