Wattpad Studios, the entertainment division of user-fiction site Wattpad, has tapped Eric Lehrman — previously VP of original scripted programming at NBCUniversal’s USA Network — as head of content development.
In addition, the Toronto-based company announced that it has hired Abby Ho, former head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s digital creator network, as its new head of the Wattpad Stars, an accelerator for top storytellers that offers a variety of paid and promotional opportunities to help writers grow their audience.
Wattpad says it has a monthly unique audience of over 45 million people, with about 2.3 million writers on the platform who share content at least monthly. The site has a library of more than 375 million original stories.
Last year, it launched Wattpad Studios, which has deals with Turner and Universal Cable Productions to identify stories from its creator base that could be developed into TV shows. A movie adaptation of “After,” a YA romance hit by Wattpad star Anna Todd, is in the works at Paramount Pictures and Offspring Entertainment.
“Wattpad Studios is predicated on helping our amazing storytellers — the Wattpad Stars — grow their careers and realize their dreams by working with the entertainment and publishing industries,” said Aron Levitz, head of Wattpad Studios. “It’s exceptionally exciting to add Eric and Abby to the team to help our partners like Turner and Hachette take better advantage of the unique stories, talented writers, and phenomenal amount of data and insights to produce entertainment hits.”
Wattpad also recently named entertainment industry vet Philip Schuman, formerly co-president of television distribution at Universal Studios, to its advisory board.
Lehrman will oversee Wattpad’s first-look TV deals with Turner and UCP, and is charged with expanding the company’s deals in filmed entertainment. Prior to USA Network, Lehrman had launched and headed the scripted division at All3Media America. He also spent five years at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Prods. and before that worked as an assistant at William Morris Agency.
As head of Wattpad Stars, Ho is in charge of developing new brand and content opportunities for writers and bring more creators into the program. At the CBC, she developed and produced content with digital influencers across the broadcaster’s properties and managed its partnership with Fullscreen. Ho has produced several digital properties for the CBC. She previously worked at Epitome Pictures as director of digital and social media.