While we have seen the spike in the consumption of OTT and Television it is nice to also see that consumers are using platforms like Wattpad that encourage entertainment through the good old joy of reading.
The social storytelling platform is home to a community of more than 80 million people who spend over 23 billion minutes a month engaging with original stories from people across the globe.
In our endeavor of bringing our readers views from a wide variety of stakeholders in the industry, Medianews4u spoke to the India Country Manager of Wattpad, Devashish Sharma on the spike in users and of course the storytelling.
Tell us about Wattpad’s journey in India?
There has been a large Wattpad community in India for years, and users in the country have shared more than 4 million story uploads. We offer stories in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Assamese, Marathi, and Oriya.
In 2018 we started to make new investments in the region. This is when I joined as Wattpad’s first Country Manager for India. One of our first moves in the region was partnering with the amazing team at Times Bridge to help us grow in the market. Times Bridge joined Wattpad as an investor and partner, supporting us with more resources and the ability to tap into Times Bridge’s expertise in growing companies.
Today, the global Wattpad community is made up of more than 80 million people, including more than 2.6 million monthly users in India.
What are the story categories that are highlighted strongly on Wattpad in the wake of coronavirus? Any major growth and hike in usage? What are the exclusive trends that you witnessed on the platform in the quarantine phase?
During this unprecedented time, we’re seeing catharsis through creativity as people around the world turn to Wattpad to share their stories and find community. Since the beginning of January, the number of new stories written on Wattpad has grown 151%. In the same period, the number of new writers has increased by 125%. There is an increase in the number of new stories being started, with many users who were previously readers now converting into writers.
In India, we’ve seen an increase in all activity on Wattpad–including daily reading time–currently up by 25%. Writing activity has also increased, doubling in recent weeks. Sign-ups have increased by around 50% in the last 30 days, with some regions much higher, likely due to the people being quarantined and social distancing.
Globally, Wattpad users are turning to stories to connect with one another and find some escape from this new global reality. Genre trends remain consistent in most cases, with romance readers turning to romance, sci-fi fans turning to sci-fi, and so on.
Our vision at Wattpad is to entertain and connect the world through stories. What we’re seeing today validates that vision, showing how much people want to connect in these uncertain times. Wattpad is a place where people can come together while stuck at home.
Platforms like BoomWriter, Book Creator, and 30hands Learning also offers the opportunity to write and explore, what makes Wattpad different?
Wattpad is the world’s leading social storytelling platform, and there’s a good reason for this: we have a massive, engaged global community of passionate readers and writers. People have shared hundreds of millions of stories on Wattpad in every genre imaginable. As a result, Wattpad is home to the most diverse group of readers and storytellers on the planet. There is something for everyone on Wattpad, whether you’re a reader looking for something new or a writer starting your first story.
While your competition is not only with other such platforms but also with OTT platforms as they too are eating away into a lot of time of the audiences… How are you competing with them?
We work with entertainment and publishing companies all over the world. These companies are our partners and work with us to develop Wattpad stories for TV, film, and to publish them as books.
Wattpad stories are everywhere. Wattpad stories are bestsellers in book stores, they are hit films in theatres, or on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
When you turn on the TV, go to a movie, or log in to your favorite streaming services, Wattpad’s insights could be behind the decisions that led to that project being green-lit. Soon you’ll see even more Wattpad stories on screens everywhere.
How is Wattpad as a platform promoting social distancing through stories?
Connection and community have always been an important part of what makes Wattpad unique. People have always come together to share their voices and stories on Wattpad, and that continues today. We’re helping people read and write together on our platform, reminding them that while they can’t connect in person right now, Wattpad is a place where everyone can come together and find a sense of belonging.
We’re also working with our partners at Times Bridge to find new ways to help authors reach their fans on Wattpad and beyond. We’re hosting more MasterClasses – this includes interactions with Bollywood lyricist Vayu Srivastav and a writing masterclass with Bloomsbury best-selling writer Shunali Khullar Shroff.
What growth trajectory have you seen from a target audience perspective? Any particular segment of audiences that seem to be using Wattpad more?
Growth today has been consistent with our core audience of Gen Z users in India and globally.
How do you plan to ensure the spike you have received in the COVID-19 lockdown period post the opening of the lockdown?
People are coming to Wattpad today for the same reasons they’ve always come to Wattpad: to discover and connect over amazing stories from diverse writers all over the world. These are the same reasons we know people who are new to Wattpad, joining in this unprecedented time, will love what they find on the platform and remain part of this incredible community.