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Technology Wattpad deepens development ties with Sony’s television studio

The Wattpad social media platform for storytellers, authors and writers is forming a “first-look” relationship with Sony Pictures Television, one of the world’s biggest producers of TV programming.

Toronto-based Wattpad said Wednesday that it will identify writers on its platform who are likely to appeal to Sony Pictures Television and then act as a liaison between them and the production company.

A similar approach was used with a TV adaptation of the Death is My BFF book series by Wattpad author Katarina E. Tonks, whose work is being co-developed by Sony Pictures Television, Stampede Ventures and Wattpad.

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Aron Levitz, the head of Wattpad Studios, said in an emailed statement that creators retain the rights to what they’ve uploaded to the platform, but his company can help them make money from those rights in several ways.

“When we are interested in taking a story to a partner, we first approach the writer to confirm their interest in the process. Once a deal is made, writers receive a fee that is similar or better than industry averages,” Levitz said.

He added that Wattpad’s success depends on their success “so we always ensure they are fairly compensated.”

Under the new first-look arrangement, Wattpad will provide Sony Pictures Television with an exclusive opportunity to assess the work and offer an option fee that buys it more time to advance the project towards production.

“As a partner and co-producer for projects, it’s our goal to get as many projects as possible to a green light,” Levitz said.

Wattpad’s commercial successes include the theatrical release of After — a film based on a novel by Anna Todd — the Netflix romantic comedy The Kissing Booth and the Emmy-nominated series Light as a Feather on Hulu.

A partnership with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., which is working with Wattpad to find emerging Canadian writers to create exclusive content for its Gem streaming service, was announced in December.

The company estimates there have been half a billion uploads to its platform, which receives 70 million visits per month.

“What makes our approach to entertainment so innovative is that we are able to bring our entertainment partners content that we’ve identified with our Story DNA Machine Learning technology, which looks at much more than just popularity,” Levitz said.

The system deconstructs stories into their elemental features, such as sentence structure, word use, and grammar employed, and then compares them with other content on Wattpad and other public domain stories.

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