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Dijit’s new NextGuide tries to reinvent the TV guide on the iPad

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Social TV remote startup Dijit is reinventing itself with a new iPad(s AAPL) app that squarely aims at the TV guide space: Dijit’s new NextGuide app presents users with viewing recommendations for live television as well as Netflix (s NFLX) and Hulu without resorting to the traditional channel grid. Instead, it organizes viewing through customized categories, which can include your home town, your favorite baseball team or even more niche interests like “German shepherds” or “deep sea diving.”

NextGuide isn’t Dijit’s first stab at this space. The company first launched its remote control app, dubbed Dijit and capable of controlling TVs and set-top boxes through a custom IR blaster, last summer. It added some basic social programming guide functionality to Dijit earlier this year, and the company signed up more than 100,000 users. Still, Dijit CEO Jeremy Toeman told me recently that he never saw it take off, and so the company realized that it had to refocus.

One key lesson learned with the Dijit app was that remote control functionality wasn’t used as much as the team initially thought. That’s why NextGuide squarely focuses on content recommendations. The app pulls in social data from Facebook (s FB) and recommends content to you in a variety of channels, with the ability to add and customize the channels you’re interested in most, and even combine various filters. Only want live TV results about dogs in your home city? NextGuide can deliver.

There is also a time grid that mixes live and on-demand recommendations, which can be a bit confusing: It’s not easily understandable why NextGuide would recommend one Netflix title Thursday at 9 p.m. and another Friday at noon. Toeman acknowledged that the personalization could still be improved.

What’s interesting about NextGuide is that it’s not your classic throwing old ideas out of the window and starting over from scratch move. Instead, NextGuide and Dijit are joined by the hip: Dijit logins work on both apps, and comments posted on one of them are also displayed on the other.

Of course, NextGuide isn’t the first company to take a stab at the next-generation TV guide. Fanhattan, Peel, Boxfish and a bunch of others are also trying to apply new ideas to content recommendations on the second screen, and itself recently published an app that tries to combine the traditional grid guide with more personalized recommendations. Still, NextGuide definitely looks interesting, and the personalized channel idea might just be what the company needs to succeed the second time around.