Wattpad, the online storytelling community whose authors’ works have been turned into Netflix movies, TV shows for Hulu and projects for other studios both in the U.S. and worldwide, announced today a new partnership with Sony Pictures Television. The deal gives Sony a first-look option for up-and-coming Wattpad stories — in other words, a way to snag the next big teen hit that already has a built-in fan base.
Wattpad says it will work with Sony to help it to identify the popular stories on its platform from the half a billion story uploads it has seen to date. The company uses its “Story DNA” machine learning technology alongside human curation to quickly identify the most promising IP and storytellers on Wattpad.
The technology helps deconstruct stories by analyzing things like sentence structure, word use and grammar, with the goal of helping to uncover the next best seller. It’s used today to help identify stories to turn into films, TV shows, books, and other digital projects.
Key to Wattpad’s ability to make these business deals is its online community, which today includes over 70 million monthly users, who spend over 22 billion minutes engaged with its original stories uploaded to its site.
This sizable community helped make Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth” movie a success, where the original story behind the film had already been read 19 million times by users worldwide.
Wattpad’s “After,” launched in theaters on April 12. It’s based on Harry Styles fan fiction and is something of a “50 Shades..” for a younger demographic. Before it became five-book series, it first racked up over a billion reads on Wattpad’s site.
Today, Wattpad works with a range of entertainment partners worldwide for similar deals, including iflix, eOne, Huayi Brothers Korea, SYFY, and others, and has turned its stories into projects at Universal Cable Productions (NBCU), Hulu, Netflix, and elsewhere.
Sony Pictures TV already had a relationship with Wattpad, before today’s news.
Last year, it acquired the series “Death is My BFF” from Katerina E. Tonks, which has over 62 million reads on the site. Lindsey Rosin (“Cruel Intentions”) is slated to write the series.
“Our entertainment partners all over the world have seen the power of our data-backed approach to IP discovery and development.” said Aron Levitz, Head of Wattpad Studios, in a statement. “Wattpad stories are some of the most innovative and creative that have ever been written. The stories and diverse voices on Wattpad deserve to be heard all over the world. And our partnership with Sony does just that: bringing Wattpad stories to new and existing fans all over the planet,” he said.
The Sony deal will be overseen by Eric Lehrman, Wattpad’s Head of Content Development and Production, the company says.
Wattpad is represented by UTA, who helped broker the deal.