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AOL steps up web series efforts

AOL has launched a new video platform and several original web series, including a dramedy penned by Sex and the City producer Amy Harris, at its TV-style digital upfront in New York.

AOL launched AOL On Network as part of a major overhaul of its video strategy, aiming to bring together all its video output into 14 themed channels, including food, business, entertainment, style and technology.

Drawing from a library of more than 320,000 videos from 1,000 publishers, the network will include original programming and curated playlists from celebrities such as designer Rachel Roy and model Heidi Klum. AOL On will replace the AOL Video, GoViral, StudioNow and AOL HD brands.

The original programming announced at the event included Fetching, a series written by Harris about a woman who quits her job as a lawyer to start a dog-walking business. The show will be produced by multi-platform studio Vuguru, which was set up in 2007 by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

Vuguru, which previously agreed a six-project deal with AOL, also revealed what will be its first original web series for the site, called Little Women Big Cars, about four Californian ‘soccer moms.’ The show is due to debut on May 7.

The other series were Tiger Beat Entertainment, a lifestyle, entertainment and pop culture show for teens and young adults. Jennifer Lopez, Simon Fields and New York-based digital entertainment company Believe Entertainment will co-executive produce the series.

Nina Garcia, a coproduction from AOL and Hud:sun Media, is a fashion and lifestyle show fronted by Garcia, the fashion director of Marie Claire and judge on the hit show Project Runway.

Next Door Hero, a new unscripted video series featuring “everyday Americans with extraordinary stories,” will be produced by AOL Studios, while Digital Justice is a weekly reality show that follows digital forensic investigators as they solve cyber crimes.

AOL also announced UR+1, a gaming platform launching next year that will allow users to pick teams of celebrities, with points given based on their coverage on AOL properties.

AOL’s upfront event was part of a string of Digital Content NewFronts that will run until May 2. It also includes showcases from the other five founders of the event, Microsoft, Google/YouTube, Yahoo!, Hulu and ad agency Digitas.

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