Media

Dijit tries to fix onscreen TV guides with a ‘discovery’ oriented NextGuide app

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In the age of endless cable TV or satellite channel guides and video on demand, couch potatoes face hundreds of viewing choices. But it’s probably harder than ever to find what you want, especially with the antiquated screen guides that were designed in the age when you had less than 100 channels.

Dijit hopes to fix that with NextGuide, a “hyper-personalized” user interface app for the iPad that offers a guide to both live television and streaming TV. It presents a single view of different services you can tap — Netflix, HuluPlus, or iTunes. But it takes this a step further by offering interest-based personalized channels based on the tastes that you have identified in your Facebook profile and “likes.”

Many screen guides offer ways to search for shows or actors, but using a remote control for that purpose is time-consuming. NextGuide is all about finding content for you that you might not know you want to watch. The guide fetches movie art to form a mosaic of tiles that you can tap on the iPad’s touchscreen. Beyond categories such as “comedy” or “drama,” it also suggests categories based on your preferences, such as”football,” “San Francisco,” “Lady Gaga,” or “Charlie Sheen.” To see what is available in that category, you tap on the tile. It’s like your own sherpa for TV.

“Netflix might recommend Stephen King to you,” said Jeremy Toeman, the chief executive of Dijit, in an interview with VentureBeat. “But you might not know there’s a rerun scheduled or that a talk show recently had an interview with him. We would surface that in a passive manner, based on what you say on Facebook. Once you set up your profile there, getting things delivered directly to you is far easier than searching for it.”

The guide’s purpose is to answer the question, “what should I watch next?” It lets you find shows on the TV or on an iPad. It has search capability but can also deliver alerts to you. The app also starts recordings on the home DVRs of  DirecTV customers.

“In 2012, the concept of watching ‘TV’ can include anything from live or recorded movies, TV shows, and sporting events from cable or satellite providers or streaming services like HuluPlus and Netflix,” Toeman said. “Further, viewing these shows has shifted from just the living room to the consumers’ device of choice — TV, iPad, smartphone, etc. To add to the confusion, there are pay TV subscribers, cord cutting, binge viewing. This type of fragmentation is bound to get even more chaotic in the future.”

He added, “We set out to create an app experience that helps the viewer reclaim control by getting away from old concepts, like ‘the grid’ and focusing instead on people, and how they consume media. We put you in control of your own guide that gets to know you, not just a spreadsheet of content. And we give you an amazingly rich and intuitive browsing experience that actually helps you find the things you care about in a fun, easy and enjoyable way.”

You can also see categories based on your friends’ tastes as well. All of the favorite channels are gathered together in a single view. You can drill down on whatever you want. The app is available as a free download on the iTunes App Store. Rival services include Fanhattan, an app that helps you find videos on a variety of sources.

“Watching TV is no longer about searching through 500 channels,” Toeman said. “We have reinvented the concept of the TV guide.”

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