Now & Next Podcast E03 – Wattpad: Leveraging a billion data points a day

Why are some of the biggest TV networks now paying attention to the online written word? It’s because of Wattpad, an online platform with 65 million users worldwide, reading 500 million+ stories each month, written by 4 million writers.

Wattpad started out a dozen years ago as a user-generated writing community, and 2 years ago launched a division called Wattpad Studios. Through its studio division the company leverages the 1 billion data points the site generates every day to help its partner companies place better bets.

In this episode, we met with the head of Wattpad Studios, Aron Levitz. Under Aron’s guidance the studio has secured multiple book, TV, and film deals with traditional book publishers like Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster, traditional media companies like NBCUniversal and TBS, and, not surprisingly, the data-friendly streaming giant Netflix.

In this episode, we take a closer look at:

  • What do data-driven insights and built-in audiences look like in practice? (3:14);
  • Because nobody knows what's going to hit, it’s often said that the big challenge in the creative industries is maximizing the creative risk, while actually managing your financial risk. How does that translate in Wattpad Studios’s world? (11:24);
  • How Wattpad Studios describes what it gets from the data? (13:30);
  • Wattpad Studios’s creative approach to its own data. (18:40).

Here’s an extract of the interview. Full transcript of the conversation is also available.

“The fact that we can use data to better predict success, to your point whether it's a 90% overall fail rate or 80% of shows that can'’t make year two, that audience is going to make the difference, and it is going to make it easier for us to see a better chance of success. Not guaranteed success, I mean there's a lot of things that go wrong between the written word and the screen, but we really believe that following the audience using data-driven stories, we can have a better chance of success." – Aron Levitz, Head of Wattpad Studios

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About Now & Next 

Now & Next is a podcast featuring in depth interviews with experts for a closer look at emerging trends and the digital transformation of the media & entertainment industry. Now & Next is produced by the Canada Media Fund and is hosted by Leora Kornfeld.

*Please note that a French adaptation of the podcast is currently in development and will be released in the upcoming months.