Is there an antidote for the burden of choice on streaming platforms? For kids, it may be as simple as tapping into their innate curiosity.
Netflix is using a new tactic for broadening this audience’s viewing choices with a “Mystery Box” feature, available worldwide starting today in all kids profiles on smart TVs.
When young viewers scroll up to the favorites row (pictured), they will now see a sparkling box with a question mark among their most-watched content. Selecting it generates a previously unwatched title for them to “discover” and consider watching.
The new feature taps into the kind of intrigue that makes unboxing such a popular trend, and offers a fun way to get kids interested in shows they don’t usually gravitate toward, or that don’t appear in their regular suggested-content algorithm.
In terms of both content and user interface, Netflix has been testing new ways to provide a more engaging space for kids. The favorites row itself just rolled out last year and uses a character-oriented design to appeal to children. For example, popular characters like Pikachu (Pokémon) and Branch (Trolls) accompany their respective content thumbnails.
The SVOD has also been investing in more interactive kids content recently, with titles such as 2020 special Captain Underpants Epic Choice-o-Rama and Battle Kitty, which debuted last month as a series.
Netflix sees gaming in general as a good investment opportunity to propel subscriber growth. The company launched games on its mobile app last year after announcing plans to officially get into that market.
Animation—and, as a result, kids content—has been under scrutiny at the streamer lately, and 70 animation-specific roles were eliminated this week as part of a larger strategic layoff. Netflix has also been trimming kids series from its development slate, although it has stated that these cuts were driven by creative rather than financial factors.