Headed to a screen near you, a new online video series about celebrities and start-ups.
Acting Disruptive is among the original Web series to debut on AOL in the coming months. The show will look in on celebrities who have start-up businesses beyond their on-screen careers.
Already wrapped is an episode focusing on Adrian Grenier (Entourage) and the sustainable lifestyle multimedia company SHFT.com, which he co-founded in 2009 with film producer Peter Glatzer. Expected to be featured in other episodes, twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper).
"The idea is to put your money where your values lie," Grenier says. "Support the companies that do things right. We can all contribute meaningfully to the world and our community on a small scale and still have that really meaningful sense of purpose."
Acting Disruptive is just one of the new series coming to AOL. Among other series announced today were Funded, a series about crowdfunding success stories; Hardwired, about gadget guru Justine Ezarik's investigations into wearable technology; Second Chances, with Gwyneth Paltrow and wellness entrepreneur Tracy Anderson detailing stories of women overcoming hardship; City.Ballet, a look at the New York Ballet, executive-produced by Sarah Jessica Parker; Anthony Eats America, starring comedian Anthony Anderson and his American tour of eateries; and My Ink, about famous athletes and their tattoos.
"Consumers are watching Web video everywhere and all the time -- on their plasma screens in their living rooms, on their mobile phones, and on their tablets," said AOL On Original Video general manager Karen Cahn in a statement accompanying the announcement of AOL's content slate. "With our premium quality original programming, AOL is bridging the gap between what people see on broadcast TV and what they see online."
Other online destinations expected to preview their next season of content this week are CBS Interactive, Google, Hulu, Univision, Disney, Vevo and Zynga.
The viewership for online video continues to increase, with 182.5 million Americans watching 39.3 billion videos in March 2013, according to ComScore. That's up from 181 million viewers watching 37 billion videos in March 2012. Online video ads viewed also rose to 13.2 billion in March, vs. 8 billion in March 2012.
And the audience for original, professionally produced online video is growing, too. About 45 million U.S. adults watch original online content each month, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which first showcased the week-long reveal of new programming, called the Digital Content Newfronts, last year in New York.
Interest in online video has led Nielsen to announce a pilot program to measure online audiences as it does those on broadcast and cable TV. In addition to AOL, A&E, ABC, CBS, CW, Discovery Communications, FOX, NBC and Univision will participate in the test, set to run May-July. "The pilot for Nielsen Digital Program Ratings is a major milestone for the industry," said Nielsen's Eric Solomon in a statement accompanying the announcement. The ratings, he said, "will enable clients to better understand the online audience for their programming by harnessing the same methodology Nielsen already uses to measure the audience for related advertising."
Former Current TV host and producer Max Lugavere came up with the idea for the Acting Disruptive series, expected to make its debut this summer, and will be the host. "There are many people who tell stories for a living that are changing up the way we think about things," says Lugavere. He hopes that the series becomes "the premiere platform for famous people who are not just famous but are challenging the status quo."
That aspect appealed to Tribeca Enterprises, which is producing the series. "You have creatives that are getting more involved with technology and trying to solve interesting problems that exist in the world," says Jane Rosenthal, the CEO of Tribeca Enterprises and producer of films such as The Good Shepherd and Meet the Fockers.
Tribeca Enterprises, which also produces the Tribeca Film Festival that ended April 28, began working with Maker Studios on YouTube's Picture Show channel.
Making premium online content is different from feature films and broadcast television, Rosenthal says. For instance, production can be done quicker; that began on Acting Disruptive only a few weeks ago. Thanks to technology, turnaround is faster. "It's quicker to shoot things, you can edit quicker and light faster or not have to light at all," she says.
However, Rosenthal adds, "Whatever it is we are making, we are making because we are passionate about it. The budgets may be a little bit smaller, but that said, you have the freedom to be able to tell that story within the structure and context of what the series is."