Operating in 17 markets – Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and  UAE, and newly launched in South Africa, OTT video streaming service Viu has partnered with the digital-first mobile reading app Wattpad to create original content from Wattpad’s hundreds of thousands of online stories.

Viu plans to have over 80 scripted and non-scripted Viu Original titles this year.

In a press release Wattpad explains,

Viu, known for providing premium Asian content, is committed to creating content assets through its growing slate of Viu Original. Through the collaboration, Viu will work with Wattpad to develop youth-oriented shows across its markets. The companies will leverage Wattpad’s Story DNA Machine Learning technology to identify exceptional stories and guide the development process.

Known for its massive and diverse library of stories that have captivated readers everywhere, Wattpad has become the go-to place for global entertainment companies to find hit projects for young adult audiences. Anna Todd’s international sensation After accumulated a billion reads on Wattpad before becoming a bestselling book and hit film. In spring 2019, the After film opened number one in 17 countries, going on to become the highest-grossing independent film so far for 2019 and winning three Teen Choice Awards.

As reported here at TNPS, Wattpad recently crossed 80 million MAUs and is the epitome of the invisible digital-first reading masses around the globe that many publishers are quite oblivious to.

Wattpad’s 80 million users are part of the invisible and untapped global digital-first readership many publishers are oblivious to

Publishers of YA material especially need to be alert to the Wattpad opportunity.

Ninety percent of Wattpad’s users are Gen Z or Millennials, and over a quarter of Wattpad’s 80 million monthly users are based in SE Asia, where Wattpad has long been experimenting with reaching audiences using other media.

Wattpad TV has been a staple of the Philippines for many years, so this latest deal with Viu should be surprising only for having taken so long to happen.

In the press release Helen Sou, Senior Vice President, Digital Media at Viu’s parent comany PCCW Media Group, said,

All over the world, millions of young people spend billions of minutes reading and writing every genre imaginable on Wattpad. We will continue to invest in original content to develop a sustainable ecosystem with local creators and providing them with a platform for their content. Wattpad has its finger on the pulse of youth culture, and with this collaboration we are able to enable the youth to connect global audiences on Viu’s engaged base.

Viu’s Philippines Country Manager Ari Kader-Cu added,

Gen Z and Millennials are zealous consumers of online content. We know that young Viu-ers are not only listening to pop music and watching teen drama, they are also making their own stories and reading other young writers’ stories on Wattpad. So we collaborate with Wattpad to transform these stories that they love into another format not only to reach audiences who primarily consume video content but also to celebrate the stories that the youth create.

The press release notes Viu is,

the latest international entertainment company to strike a deal with Wattpad. Some of Wattpad’s other partners include Sony Pictures Television, Mediacorp, and Huayi Brothers Korea.

There have been many others.

As Netflix prepares to stream one Wattpad novel, another is snapped up by Hulu, while a third is at casting

While some publishers are beginning to grasp the significance of Wattpad and online reading, and a handful are fully engaged and reaping the rewards, others carry on with the well-worn but discredited argument that smartphones – the devices that drive most of Wattpad’s success – are the enemy of publishing and a book is only a book if it comes in paper & ink format and is sold in a bricks & mortar bookstore.

It’s their choice to look the other way, of course, but meantime Wattpad is on target to break 100 million users early in the next decade, and as it has shown time and time again, it has no hang-ups about formats and embraces them all. Digital, print, TV, film, flash fiction, serialisation, shortform, longform, you name it.

Wattpad lets its business decisions be driven by consumer choice, while far too many publishers still feel it their duty to restrict the options they offer.

As these Generation Z and Millennials become the next decade’s mainstream consumers and Generation Alpha takes their place, just maybe that policy needs rethinking.

Once a ridiculed fan-fiction site for wannabes, Wattpad will be at the forefront of global publishing in the 2020s.