In a bid to help its youngest viewers find new shows to watch, Netflix will start testing character-driven video previews later this year. SVOD execs, including kids and family VP Melissa Cobb and TV production innovation director Cameron Johnson, showed off the new tech earlier this week at one of the streamers “Labs Day” press events in Los Angeles.
Since kids are more likely to choose and connect with content through characters, Netflix displays rows of them at the top of the kids content sections to entice children into watching something new, according to Johnson. It also appeals to younger preschool viewers, who aren’t necessarily reading yet, he added.
To build on the existing model, the streamer is piloting a feature where these same characters talk viewers through the plot of the show. Characters from Netflix originals Hilda (pictured), Dragon Prince and Next Gen explain who they are and will be spliced in with clips from the show or movie. The SVOD plans on rolling out the beta tests to a select audience on the platform later this year.
“Kids want to know who is this character: Are they funny, are they exciting, you know, what do they do?” said Johnson. “Do they beat up bad guys, are they a good friend, are they really silly? We think that’s a powerful way for kids to find content they’re gonna [sic] love.”
There is no guarantee that this new venture will be rolled out to the entire Netflix user-base, but this is one of the ways the SVOD is thinking about improving discoverability, he said.
The focus on helping kids find new shows comes at a time when more than 50 million profiles streamed children’s content on Netflix in February alone, according to Johnson. And around 60% of Netflix’s audience watches some kids and family content every month, added Cobb.
The news follows the streamer diving into more interactive content, announcing its new animated series Battle Kitty just yesterday. Inspired by animator Matt Layzell’s Instagram posts, the choose-your-own adventure offering will follow the titular character as she tries to unlock new levels.