“We are talking to various streaming players, publishing and entertainment houses in India. We want to establish partnerships with local players to give them stories with Indian context,” chief executive Allen Lau told ET, without disclosing the names of the companies Wattpad is in talks with. “We supply stories, help them with adaptation and market them on our platform. It has proven very effective.”
The Tencent-backed company runs a story-sharing website and mobile app where writers can share their original stories — including fan fiction and love stories — with a wide community of readers. In India, it has 2.6 million users and supports 10 local languages, including Assamese and Punjabi. About 10% of its users are writers.
Globally, the Toronto-based company has worked and formed partnerships with TV, film and digital video firms such as Netflix, Sony Pictures Television, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, Komixx Media, Paramount Pictures, CW Seed and Hulu.
It is looking to produce 26 movies in Indonesia over the next one year with Malaysia-headquartered streaming video service Iflix. One of Netflix’s most popular teen movies, Kissing Booth, originated on Wattpad.
The company is valued at about $400 million and has a total monthly audience of over 70 million people, with an average daily engagement of 30 minutes per user. The Indian user demographic is consistent with the company’s global demographics, of more than 70% female users. Four in five Wattpad users are millennials (aged 35 or below). Estimated revenue is about $20 million, according to industry experts.
“Wattpad users globally, like the Indian population, are young millennials, and 90% of all Wattpad activity is on mobile. We want to take advantage of the young, digitally savvy Indian population. India is in the top 10 global over-the-top (OTT) markets in the world. It is a perfect time to capture growth in India,” the CEO said.
The past two years have seen an increased focus on regional language content, with established OTT players increasing their regional content library along with an advent of regional-only local OTT players in the industry, according to a recent report released by KPMG. Hotstar, Zee 5, Sony, Viacom, Eros and Alt Balaji are all investing in original content. Karan Johar is the latest entrant, with the launch of digital content company Dharmatic Entertainment.
“Most content on OTT platforms is either catch-up television or movies. They need to offer something different and unique. Timing wise there is merit and there is an opportunity if books can be adopted into shows and movies. They should be able to marry their content with the OTT platform’s audience,” said Girish Menon, head-media and entertainment at KPMG India.
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