By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @porter_anderson
‘At the Forefront of These Industry Shifts’Close on the heels of its announcement last week of a new partnership with Kaja Wolffers’ Dutch production company NL Film, the book-to-screen expansion for Wattpad Studios continues with news today (June 25) that the company has teamed up with Gruppo Mediaset to develop and co-produce television shows in Italy.
The now familiar arrangement echoes those struck in other parts of the world by Toronto-based Wattpad. Mediaset will utilize the platform’s algorithmic means of surfacing content of the kind and topic it’s looking to develop and will have first dibs on Italian material from the reading-and-writing platform. Current numbers on Wattpad are: 70 million active monthly users, a figure that includes some 4 million writers.
As we’ve pointed out many times, those numbers matter. “Wattpad Star” Anna Todd’s film After from director Jenny Gage had a No. 1 opening in Italy in the spring, no doubt fueled by the ready audience the work had built on Wattpad. Hardly a critical hit, the film, is said by Toronto to be the highest grossing independent film of the year so far, opening at No. 1 in 16 international territories in addition to the Italian market.
The box office draw of the film, starring Selma Blair and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, has prompted Wattpad and Voltage Pictures to announce they’ll produce a sequel to After, which Todd originated as a three-book series.
In a prepared statement, Wattpad Studios chief Aron Levitz is quoted, saying, “Italy’s rich history of storytelling has found a new life on Wattpad, where a new generation of writers is building worlds and connecting with readers online.
“Mediaset is embracing the future of entertainment: one that starts with data and audience insights.”
And for Mediaset, the comment is contributed by Allesandro Salem, content director general, who says, “Entertainment is changing, and people want to see new stories from new voices. At the same time, data is driving a revolution in how projects get found and get made.
“Working with Wattpad, we can be at the forefront of these industry shifts, tapping into a massive community of incredible storytellers with built-in communities of fans.”
Mediaset S.p.A. is ranked among Europe’s largest commercial broadcasters, operating from Milano in both Italy and Spain.
“Entertainment is changing, and people want to see new stories from new voices. “Allesandro Salem, Mediaset
Beyond production interests, the company is involved in radio stations, filmmaking, and more. Mediaset Italia is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (since 1996), Mediaset Espana on the Madrid bourse since 2004. In Italy, the company operates three flagship channels, Canale 5, Italia 1 and Retequattro. And in Spain, its output is based in the channels Telecinco and Cuatro.
Having created 10 free-to-air thematic channels in recent years—Iris, La5, 20, Focus, Mediaset Italia2, Mediaset Extra, Top Crime, Boing, Cartoonito, and the all-news channel TgCom24—the company in 2013 also launched Infinity, an online video streamer with some 6,000 offerings in film and television series available. You can get a sense for the breadth of Mediaset’s programming with a quick look at its channels guide here.
The radio component seems to have come relatively recently to the company with a 2016 rollout that now features what Wattpad’s offices are describing as the first Italian radio group, RadioMediaset. Outlets include R101, Radio 105, Virgin Radio, Radio Montecarlo and Radio Subasio.
‘A New Generation of Writers’
As we wrote last week in regards to the Dutch deal, when carefully developed with strong messaging to the Wattpad community, a film or work of television can roll onto screens with a huge waiting fan base developed in millions of reads of the original texts on the platform., which supports some 50 languages. Cultivating the social-media channels of a given market—as the Instagram account after.italy does for the Wattpad film After—helps churn the fans’ enthusiasm.
What’s meant by such phrases as “data-backed decisions” on content for development is proven audience interest, of course.
One premise on which Wattpad is selling its value is that of lowering the risk on new projects. If the Wattpadian faithful are reading and following a work on the platform—and that’s part of what that “Story DNA” search capability tells Wattpad’s team—that’s a good sign that someone will show up at the box office or on their Roku box looking for the title when it’s known that the screen adaptation is ready.
And, as we recapped last with the Netherlands deal coming into view, April was busy these announcements, as the Toronto-based platform added:
- Lagardère Studios, a sister company to Hachette Livre
- Singapore’s Mediacorp
- Sony Pictures Television
- Anvil Publishing in the Philippines with a new imprint, Bliss Books
Before the spring’s new flurry of announcements, Levitz’s and his Hong Kong office’s outreach efforts for Wattpad screen development on the international scale have included iflix, SYFY, Huayi Brothers Korea, Bavaria Fiction.