Wattpad inks content deal with Universal Cable Productions

The NBCUniversal-owned prodco behind Mr. Robot will create shows based on IP from the story-sharing platform.
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Toronto-based story-sharing platform Wattpad is looking to take the script-to-screen process to the next level.

The company, which has more than 45 million monthly global users, has inked a development deal with NBCUniversal-owned production company Universal Cable Productions (UCP).

Under the deal, UCP, which is the producer behind TV shows such as Mr. Robot, will be able to mine Wattpad’s library of stories and utilize its first-party data to identify stories that resonate with audiences, and then develop and produce TV content across a range of genres based on that IP.

“Increasingly, studios and producers, such as UCP, are looking for stories with built-in audiences. They’re starting to look at the data that is making things popular, instead of just gut feel,” Wattpad founder Aron Levitz told Playback Daily.

Founded in 2006, Wattpad has amassed a library of more than 300 million user-generated stories. According to the company, more than 24 hours of reading material is posted to Wattpad every minute and the platform has more than 500,000 uploads each day.

The advantage of Wattpad, continued Levitz, is that it can utilize a number of algorithms and data points to discover which stories its users are reacting most favourably to. In some cases, stories will have hundreds of thousands of comments, and Wattpad’s data is able to sift through those comments in order to ascertain which stories are drawing interest, comments and user reaction.

It can also highlight a specific part of a story – a paragraph or a certain plot sequence – and look at the feedback and comments on that particular segment of the story. “So now as a director, a scriptwriter, a showrunner, you can take a look at that specific paragraph and understand the subtext that was never there before, simply because of the data around commenting,” he said. Taking this notion further, Levitz said this can also help to inform the editing process for scripts that are being developed for TV.

“At UCP we’re always looking for ways to find untapped, unsigned, talent and budding writers from around the U.S. and world,” said UCP’s Dawn Olmstead, EVP of development, in a statement.”[Wattpad] allows us access to great stories, but also real-time data on what is trending, shared, reviewed and resonating with readers.”

In terms of IP ownership, Wattpad users retain the rights to all of their story IP when they upload stories. In the case of Wattpad or UCP wanting to use a certain story to develop into a TV/film/digital property, the author must opt in and agree to let their IP be used.

Earlier this year, Wattpad signed a deal with U.S. TV net Turner to develop and produce horror-focused stories. The first of these is The Tales from the Crypt, which Levitz said is still currently in development.