Optical/IP Networks

When Facebook Met Netflix

6:00 PM -- The video entertainment industry is solidly focused on the multi-screen world, on tying together traditional TV, in its paid and free broadcast forms, with the wealth of what is available on the Internet in paid and free forms, and then delivering all that to screens of varying sizes.

The question quickly becomes, however, how to do that and not just create a bigger version of the "I've got 500 channels but nothing to watch" dilemma?"

TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) was the original answer to that question, but we now have a whole industry growing up around content discovery. One such company -- startup Dijit Media -- is taking its crack with NextGuide, a new customizable electronic guide for the iPad that aims at delivering everything you want to watch on TV, including things you didn't know existed.

At its most basic, NextGuide combines live TV listings with available movies and TV shows from Internet services such as Netflix, Hulu and iTunes, and then lets consumers search for what they want or set up alerts. But NextGuide goes farther to use Facebook listings of both the consumer and their friends to recommend or alert the consumer to shows.

"For example, say I'm a fan of Bill Murray and Coldplay," says Dijit CEO Jeremy Toeman. Assuming those interests were part of his Facebook profile, "NextGuide would alert me that Bill Murray will be on David Letterman's show tomorrow night. And while I never watch MTV, it could tell me there will be a Coldplay concert on this weekend."

NextGuide goes farther, however, to tell you about shows that your friends like, believing that if your Facebook friends like a show, then you might want to check it out. The thought there, says Toeman, is that we might be getting recommendations of shows all the time, but not remember them at the precise moment we have an hour to watch, or not remember the channel they are on -- NextGuide takes care of this for you.

The iPad app will also allow you to program your DVR, if you happen to be a DirecTV customer, and can actually launch you directly into a viewing app such as live streaming from Netflix.

Given the diversity of my Facebook friends, I'm not sure learning what they value in viewing will inform my own choices all that much, but I think this is an interesting approach to parsing the wild world of video content and Toeman certainly is coming at this problem with a lot of experience. The Dijit CEO has cut his content discovery teeth by being part of a who's who of video content and Internet video players from Boxee , VUDU Inc. , and Rovi Corp. to Sling Media Inc. .

He says the whole point is to put the consumer back in control.

Dijit plans to launch a iPhone version of NextGuide soon and is looking at other platforms as well, depending on the performance of the iPad version.

Toeman is bringing his expertise to our Content Discovery panel at TelcoTV next month in Las Vegas, where he'll be joined by Bob Shallow, senior vice president of service-provider sales and marketing at Rovi, and Yonatan Sela, VP of marketing at Tvinci Ltd.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:21:33 PM
re: When Facebook Met Netflix

There is an increasing wave of companion TV apps for connected devices, many of which are tying into Facebook, Twitter etc. to bring social media to TV. There are apps features for video streaming, discovery and navigation, bonus content, interactive advertising, sweepstakes and reward programs, rating shows and chatting with friends. 

Some of it's cool (interactive TV at last!) but I don't know how these funny-named startups are going to break through the clutter, gain traction with consumers and build a business. By the time you finish reading this, another app probably will launch.

Would you like to start a companion TV app? We'll call it LRTV. Oh wait, that name's been taken.


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