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Startup Dijit Promises To Get Extremely Personal With Tablet TV Guide

App's Features Include Ability to Set DVR Recordings With DirecTV 9/07/2012 2:00 AM Eastern

Silicon Valley startup Dijit Media is the latest contender vying to reinvent the stodgy grid-based TV guide, launching an iPad app that tells users what's available to watch on TV -- or online -- based on their personal interests or their buddies' favorites.

The company's NextGuide app combines listings from pay-TV services, supplied by Tribune Media Services, with movies and TV shows available on services including Netflix and iTunes. The guide can be organized to show a user what's available by show, channel, genre or any keywords.

"We decided it was time to literally reinvent the guide," Dijit CEO Jeremy Toeman said. "You have what we consider a 'content experience' -- not a channel experience."

NextGuide also gives DirecTV customers with a DVR the ability to initiate recordings. The startup added that feature in just a few days, according to Toeman. He said NextGuide will add similar support for cable companies' DVRs later in the fall.

Dijit (pronounced "digit") joins other app developers aiming to provide a definitive, personalized second-screen TV guide, including TV Guide Digital, GetGlue and Sony Electronics.

What makes Dijit's NextGuide different, according to Toeman, is that it presents a mosaic-like interface built out of TV shows and movies that are relevant to you. Each screen in the app represents a category, such as comedy or drama, and users simply slide from screen to screen to browse listings.

In addition to following individual shows, NextGuide users also can create their own personalized categories around their interests, such as "Football," "San Francisco" or "Lady Gaga." The app then automatically scans those keywords and delivers alerts whenever there are new episodes of matching content.

The app's social-media extensions include a feature that analyzes users' Facebook friends' interests and their own profile to make recommendations. NextGuide can then kick off a video stream, if the content is available on Netflix or other apps.

"The biggest pain from me telling you about a TV show is figuring out how to watch the show," said Toeman, who previously worked at Sling Media and other new-media startups. "Now there's an app you can use to add it to your queue. You don't even have to know which channel it's on."

Based in San Francisco, the nine-employee startup is backed by venture-capital firms Menlo Ventures and Alsop Louie Partners. Toeman declined to disclose the amount of Dijit's funding.

The company's first app, launched in 2011, was the Dijit Remote, which acts as a universal remote in conjunction with Griffin Technology's Beacon hardware attachment to control set-tops, TVs, home-entertainment systems and other consumer electronics.

Dijit is aiming to make money via the free NextGuide app in three ways: generating a transaction fee for directing users to paid content via iTunes or Netflix; selling data and analytics; and through advertising around the content to promote TV shows.

Toeman acknowledged that getting to a sizable number of users will be the critical challenge for Dijit. "You need 1 million active daily users to make a difference in anyone's world," he said. "We are starting small... we're going to see what users want to do with the app."

The NextGuide app is free to download from the App Store. More info is available at www.nextguide.tv.

September