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AOL, Hulu, Yahoo! roll out originals

AOL has unveiled a slate of 15 original web series, including a show from Ryan Seacrest Productions, while online rival Hulu claims to have doubled its subscription base.

AOL has brought in celebrity names such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Ritchie to front its original content push on AOL On Network.

The shows include Ryan Seacrest Productions series Second Chances, in which Paltrow spends time with women who have triumphed in the face of adversity.

AOL will also host City.Ballet, a behind-the-scenes docu-drama following performers at New York City Ballet, exec produced by Sarah Jessica Parker.

The Simpsons’ voice actor Hank Azaria will also front a series, Fatherhood, in which he faces the challenges of becoming a first-time father. The show is produced by BermanBraun.

Meanwhile, online rival Hulu, still seeking a full-time CEO, said its has doubled the number of subscribers to its Hulu Plus service over the past 12 months to four million.

Speaking at Digital Content NewFronts in the US, Hulu’s interim CEO Andy Forrsell has also confirmed that the service generated US$695m in revenue last year, up 65% over 2011.

Its slate of upcoming original programming includes new additions Quick Draw, a half-hour comedy set in the Wild West during 1875, and East Los High, a drama with an all Latino cast set in an inner city school.

These join the previously announced Seth Myers-produced toon The Awesomes and its coproduction with BBC Worldwide, The Wrong Mans.

On the acquisitions side, it has added the UK comedy Moone Boy, starring Chris O’Dowd, as well as season two of Prisoners of War and season four of The Only Way is Essex.

Yahoo! has also revealed six new original programmes it is bringing to its online video space, including Tiny Commando from The Office’s Ed Helms, about a four-inch tall private investigator. It is produced by Principato-Young Entertainment.

Morgan Spurlock, meanwhile, is exec producing Losing Your Virginity with John Stamos, in which Stamos interview celebrities about their first sexual experiences.

Both will debut this fall, while lifestyle content such as Fashion Recipe, Cinema & Spice and Grill Girls (working title) will arrive later this year.

Episodes of its comedy line-up will be made available all at once, in what Yahoo! calls a “binge-viewing” format.

In related news, Yahoo! has hired Richard Williams, former programme and web support boss at ITV in the UK, as its head of media in the UK and Ireland.

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