Wattpad Strikes Content Development Deal With Italy's Mediaset

Allen Lau - 2015 WIRED Business Conference - Getty - H 2018
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The European expansion for the Canadian storytelling startup, led by CEO Allen Lau, steps up a gear after partnerships in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Canadian storytelling app Wattpad is headed to Italy after signing a development and production deal with Italian broadcaster Mediaset.

The deal hands Mediaset, the Italian media company controlled by the family of former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, the exclusive first-look rights to develop Wattpad stories for TV in Italy, where both partners have a strong user base. Wattpad and Mediaset will use data-driven machine-learning technology to identify and co-produce projects with the most potential for a TV adaptation.

Mediaset, facing competition from Netflix, last month acquired a 9.6 percent stake in Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 Media for $380 million as it looks to diversify beyond Italy's weak advertising market. Wattpad, founded in 2006 and led by CEO Allen Lau, has a digital platform that allows amateur writers to publish their own works of fiction online.

The Italian deal follows Hulu giving a 10-part order to the supernatural thriller Light as a Feather, based on the novel Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board by Zoe Aarsen, which received over 3 million reads on Wattpad's self-publishing platform. Wattpad is co-producing the series with AwesomenessTV and Kelsey Grammer's Grammnet shingle.

“Mediaset is embracing the future of entertainment, one that starts with data and audience insights. We’re thrilled to work with them to bring diverse new stories to Italian TV," Aron Levitz, head of Wattpad Studios, said in a statement. Budgets or additional details about how the partners plan to produce a slate of Italian TV titles were not revealed.

Wattpad signed earlier content partnerships with Bavaria Fiction in Germany, Lagardere Studios in France and NL Film in the Netherlands. The company also has U.S. and international production deals with Sony Pictures Television, SYFY, ifflix and Huayi Brothers Korea.