Naver to acquire Canada’s Wattpad to fuel its IP ambitions

Posted on : 2021-01-21 17:32 KST Modified on : 2021-01-21 17:32 KST
S. Korean platform set to become world’s top platform for webtoons and web fiction

Naver is acquiring the Canada-based online storytelling platform Wattpad to build up its own content-related international property (IP) business.

According to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), Naver made a decision at a board meeting on Jan. 19 to acquire a 100% stake in Wattpad for roughly US$600 million.

“[With this acquisition] we now have the world’s top-ranked platforms for both webtoons (Naver Webtoon) and web fiction (Wattpad),” Naver said.

“Through a Wattpad user base of 90 million people in North America, Europe, and other cultural spheres and some 1 billion stories by 5 million Wattpad creators, we will now be able to expand Naver’s global content business in a more stable and effective fashion,” it added.

Once the acquisition procedures are completed in the first half of 2021, Naver will be the operator of the world’s biggest storytelling platform, with around 160 million users. The company envisions a range of synergy-oriented projects, including webtoon adaptations of Wattpad fiction.

“Eighty percent of Wattpad users come from Generation Z [people born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s], so we will be able to develop Naver webtoons out of source content that has already been tested with the global Generation Z,” it explained.

“We’ve already seen the potential for that with successful global webtoon adaptations based on online storytelling, including ‘Omniscient Reader’ and ‘The Remarried Empress,’” it added.

The company also announced plans for “a more diverse range of video adaptations of content using Wattpad’s studio for video projects and Naver Webtoon’s Studio N.”

More and more success stories have been emerging recently with webtoon- and web fiction-based TV series and films, along with original content by streaming platforms like Netflix. This means that new series or films could be adapted in the future from Wattpad’s web fiction. Naver Webtoon works like “Hell” and “Our School Now” are already slated for production as Netflix originals, and 1,500 Wattpad works to date have been adapted into publications and videos.

Naver plans to apply its IP business acumen to Wattpad’s web fiction. Naver Webtoon has successfully generated profits through webtoons through a so-called “PPS” (page, profit share) program connecting paid views with advertisements and IP. Its aim is now to apply that to Wattpad to develop its web fiction into core entertainment industry content.

By Choi Min-young, staff reporter

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