Toronto social publishing platform Wattpad is launching Wattpad Studios, a multi-channel network (MCN) that the company will use to co-produce stories for print, film, television, and digital platforms with its strategic media partners, including United Talent Agency, Paramount Pictures, and the TV5 Network in the Philippines.
Wattpad’s former head of business development Aron Levitz will become head of Wattpad Studios.
“Entertainment and Wattpad stories go hand-in-hand. It’s why millions of people around the world spend 15 billion minutes a month on the platform,” said Wattpad Co-Founder and CEO Allen Lau. “The launch of Wattpad Studios will not only extend the reach of Wattpad stories, but will also help shape the future of community and data-driven entertainment.”
Founded in 2006, Wattpad has gone on to become the world’s largest social publishing platform with more than two million content creators having uploaded 250 million original stories for an audience of more than 40 million regular Wattpad users, 95% of whom are under 30 years of age.
With a $17.3 million investment from Khosla Ventures in 2012, followed by an endorsement from Margaret Atwood in 2013, Wattpad has achieved a momentum that has legitimized it as a social networking hub for self-publishers, and now a media partner for established networks and programming producers.
To date, Wattpad has raised approximately $67 million in venture capital funding, and has become one of the Canadian tech sector’s defining success stories.
“Wattpad deals exclusively in the one thing that powers the billion-dollar entertainment industry – original and compelling stories,” said Levitz. “As the largest and fastest-growing platform for stories, we can easily spot the voices that resonate with audiences around the world and the stories that have an established fan base. Wattpad Studios will help industry executives make smarter decisions, faster.”
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As Wattpad’s head of business development, Levitz helped establish the company’s monetization strategy through the launch of Wattpad Brand Stories, a form of native advertising employed on the publishing platform, and Wattpad Stars, a program that selected the platform’s “top influencers” to have them participate in a variety of paid and promotional opportunities, which has seen Wattpad’s most popular writers create branded stories for companies like Coca-Cola Co., AT&T Inc. and Mondelez International Inc.
Wattpad Studios is not unlike Wattpad Presents, a prime-time daily drama made in collaboration with the Philippines-based Kapatid Network, produced by TV5, which launched in 2014 and has serialized 40 Wattpad stories into 200 television episodes.
Aside from Wattpad Stars and Wattpad Presents, Wattpad Studios will provide an umbrella for two other Wattpad initiatives, namely Wattpad Words and Wattpad Insights.
Wattpad Words is the platform’s way of helping publishers connect with readers, through promotion, story testing and real-time feedback gathering.
Wattpad Insights will allow executives access to trend reports, giving them an analytic snapshot of what’s popular and why on the platform, and also presenting them with opportunities for IP acquisition that may then be turned into a property produced via Wattpad Studios.
Wattpad Studios promises to open new monetization opportunities for the platform’s content creators, with the prospect of adapting their writing for a television or multi-media audience, as well as opening up several new monetization opportunities for Wattpad itself.