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James Franco, Ellen DeGeneres to Produce Shows for AOL

AOL is also partnering with Nielsen on TV-like ratings for its online video shows

AOL has ordered 12 new web series produced by a diverse group of A-list Hollywood talent, including James Franco, Steve Buscemi and Ellen DeGeneres. AOL unveiled its new slate of shows Tuesday at a presentation for advertisers in New York.

In addition to the 12 new shows, it picked up four series for new seasons, including Tiffany Shlain’s “The Future Is Here” and “city.ballet,” executive produced by “Sex in the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker.

While Yahoo, Microsoft and Hulu have poured money into long-form narrative series, AOL remains committed to short-form reality shows.

Also read: Yahoo Snags YouTube Star for Recap Show (Exclusive)

Franco will discuss and recreate scenes from classic movies with other artists while Kevin Nealon will push famous comedians to teach kids comedy in a series he is executive producing with DeGeneres.

YouTube star iJustine, “Avatar” actress Zoe Saldana and “Smallville” producer Mike Tollin are all involved in shows as well.

AOL’s partnership with Nielsen may prove far more significant in the long run than these celebrity backed shows, however.

Also read: Nielsen Taking Next Big Step to Incorporate Mobile-Device Viewing Into TV Ratings

Nielsen provides ratings that compare AOL shows to its TV data. Nielsen already measures videos that originate on TV.

Inconsistent metrics have plagued companies like AOL and YouTube as they try to persuade advertisers to spend more money on their videos. If those companies start to provide numbers that prove audiences watching video online rival or surpass TV audiences, the financial impact will be massive.