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Startups Toronto-based Wattpad partners with Turner to bring horror stories to life

Toronto-based online content platform Wattpad is teaming up with media giant Turner to give its writers a chance to see their stories come to life on a different screen.

Wattpad, where more than 45 million users read and write stories about everything from boy-band fan fiction to werewolf dramas, announced the new partnership on Monday.

The deal will initially focus on helping Turner develop stories for its upcoming horror block, Tales From the Crypt. Turner recently green-lit a remake of the anthology, which is expected to debut on TNT in 2017 and features horror veteran M. Night Shyamalan as executive producer.

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The collaboration is the latest venture from Wattpad Studios, a new division of the publishing platform led by Aron Levitz focusing on working with the entertainment industry to co-produce Wattpad stories for print, film, television and other digital mediums.

The partnership will be multifaceted, says Mr. Levitz, with opportunities for Wattpad users to influence the show through contests and in some cases, having stories optioned for the network.

Horror is one of the most popular genres on Wattpad and includes some of the most highly engaged users. Justin Williams, senior vice-president of digital ventures for Turner's cable networks TNT and TBS, said in a news release the company is excited to tap into Wattpad's strength in the horror genre.

Mr. Levitz says one of the pillars of the agreement will see Wattpad provide Turner with audience data to help develop content that already resonates with the existing audience found on Wattpad.

"The whole point of this relationship with Turner is to really have an audience help with the development of something that is going to happen on TV," Mr. Levitz says.

"We can also use data and insights to find brilliant horror stories that are already supported by fans. By finding those, the entertainment industry can have a greater chance of success when they produce a show knowing that on Day 1, people are going to tune in."

Turner will also work with Wattpad to use the popular publishing platform as a promotional and marketing engine for its television networks.

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The partnership marks a new step in monetizing the free online story-sharing platform.

"This is a new type of monetization for Wattpad, but it also supports our existing monetization path in our native advertising business," Mr. Levitz says.

To date, the company has received approximately $67-million (U.S.) in venture capital financing.

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