New York – AOL Inc. announced its 2014 slate of original programming at its Digital Content NewFront in Brooklyn on April 29, reaffirming its long-term commitment to creating premium shows with authentic storytelling. Featuring talent and producers such as James Franco, Steve Buscemi, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zoe Saldana, and Ellen DeGeneres, the shows will span topics from family and comedy to business and technology, and will also include AOL’s first long-form series, Connected. AOL’s 16 original shows will premiere throughout the year on The AOL On Network.
In addition, in a deal that is the first of its kind, AOL and Nielsen announced that AOL has signed on to participate in a beta that will provide truly TV-comparable audience measurement across all of AOL’s new series. The Nielsen beta will deliver GRPs (gross ratings points) that reflect the audience reach by age and gender for AOL’s new programming as an extension of Nielsen Digital Programme Ratings, which currently measures TV-originated content viewed online. In addition to measuring content, AOL will be tagging associated advertising using Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings; the combination of audience measurement across ‘digital-first’ content and related advertising will make it possible for complete audience comparisons to TV for the first time.
“We are fully committed to producing premium content at scale,” said Ran Harnevo, President of AOL Video. “Premium content is premium content, regardless of screen, delivery, length, or format, and our relationship with Nielsen signifies that understanding. As TV and digital continue to merge into one ecosystem, we believe in one standard form of measurement, and we’re proud to be the first digital client to work with Nielsen to make this vision a reality.”
“In our experience, compelling, high-quality content always finds an audience. The key is putting in place the independent measurement that instills advertiser confidence,” said Nielsen’s Steve Hasker, President, Global Product Leadership. “AOL’s involvement in this beta for the next phase of Nielsen Digital Programme Ratings is another milestone in leveling the field for TV and digital video programming, and brings the added accountability and verification to the digital video market that advertisers demand.”
“This year’s slate continues to define AOL Originals as a premium showcase for authentic voices telling remarkable stories,” said Gabriel Lewis, head of AOL Originals. “We have a unique opportunity to produce and programme a diverse range of content for the various audiences the AOL On Network reaches, and we’ve taken advantage of that opportunity. We also want to push the boundaries of what’s expected from AOL, and to create conversations around topics that resonate with digital audiences. We’re incredibly excited about the series showcased in this year’s slate of AOL Originals as well as the renewal of four shows from last year’s slate, and we’re looking forward to sharing them with both returning audiences and new ones.”
The 2014 programming slate includes:
MAKING A SCENE WITH JAMES FRANCO – Born out of Franco’s love for movies, each episode will feature James and one or more fellow artists discussing their favourite, classic scenes from Hollywood cinema. Then they will put their own stamp on history by recreating these scenes with an irreverent twist. Produced by Rabbit Bandini Productions and Trium Entertainment.
KEVIN NEALON’S LAUGH LESSONS – Comedy is hard, but teaching comedy to children is hilariously difficult. Kevin Nealon is giving the challenge to some world-famous comedians in this new AOL series. As these young minds meet with comedy’s best, get ready to learn some valuable comedy lessons, and to laugh! If you thought kids say the darndest things, wait until you hear what these comedians have to say. Executive producers Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Nealon, Jeff Kleeman, Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly for Telepictures.
INSPIRED features A-list celebrities, visionaries and some of the biggest newsmakers of our generation, recounting the stories behind their most life-changing moments of inspiration. Original photos and archival footage will bring these moments to life along with in-depth interviews. Executive produced by Rick Solomon and brought to you by NewForm, a new digital studio formed in partnership with Discovery Communications, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Craig Jacobson, Ed Wilson, Jim Wiatt, Michael Rosenberg.
MY HERO – Executive produced by Zoe Saldana (who will star in one of the episodes), is an uplifting show featuring celebrities paying a surprise tribute to one person who changed their life by giving them an over-the-top, heart-felt surprise. Produced by Ellen Rakieten Entertainment a division of Relativity Media and Cinestar Productions.
WIN/WIN – The biggest names in business join a famous athlete for a day of honest conversation, legitimate fun and surprising insights. Win/Win will provide unprecedented access into the minds of the world’s most-celebrated entrepreneurs and athletes in a compelling, fly-on-the-wall style that will offer fans a fascinating view of what life is really like at the summit of these two increasingly-intertwined worlds. With a mix of candid discussions and story-telling expertise, Win/Win will be the ultimate window on the personalities who define today’s sports and business landscapes. Executive Producers Mike Tollin and Jon Weinbach for Mandalay Sports Media.
THAT’S RACIST – Jews and Money. Asian Drivers. Polish IQ. CPT… that’s racist! But where do these stereotypes come from? Actor and comedian Mike Epps explores the backstories of this humor and how history and fact often distorts into a snide – but sometimes funny – shorthand. Produced by Andrew Fried for Boardwalk Pictures.
SO MUCH MORE – Punk rock singer Tom Gabel of Against Me! made news in 2012 when she came out as a transgender woman – but what was more remarkable was the overwhelming support the music community gave her as she made her transition to Laura Jane Grace. This is her story – and the story of other members of the trans community whose experiences are woefully underrepresented and misunderstood in the media. Produced by AOL Studios.