There have been plenty of startups that have tried to reinvent the TV guide. The key challenge for most has been how to attract a large enough user base to take their product mainstream. It looks like Dijit, the San Francisco-based company behind NextGuide, may have found an answer: Nextguide announced partnerships with Fox, (S NWS) BBC America and truTV Friday, which will result in the TV networks adding a “remind me to watch” button to their show websites.
Consumers who click on the button can register for NextGuide and will then receive reminders via email or through the NextGuide iOS app, promting them to tune in 30 minutes before a new episode airs on TV. The reminder buttons were already added to web pages about more than 80 shows, and are now also prominently featured on the Fox.com homepage. NextGuide said in a release that it will soon announce eight additional network partners.
The buttons could be a win-win for both NextGuide and its network partners: Presence on the networks’ websites will obviously help NextGuide to get in front of many more users, and the premise of a reminder service is simple yet useful enough for people to actually sign up. Networks on the other hand will have a simple tool to get people to tune in live, and are able to direct viewers that miss the initial showing to repeats, or catch-up versions on its own website or services like Hulu.com.
However, there’s another piece of the puzzle that’s just as interesting, which Dijit hinted at when it relaunched its corporate website Friday. Users who sign up for a show reminder on a site like Fox.com are told that NextGuide reserves the right to share some data with Fox. I asked Dijit CEO Jeremy Toeman what that means, and he told me that certain data about usage will be shared in aggregate with network partners, meaning that networks won’t be able to tell which user watched which shows, but they will get a sense of where their shows are watched.
That kind of data is potentially very valuable to networks. NextGuide doesn’t just offer consumers links to live TV, but also lets them know when shows are available on Hulu and when they find their way to Netflix (s NFLX) or other services. NextGuide users can even control their DVR through the service. Even anonymized and aggregated, that kind of detailed data could be a gold mine to networks who are trying to figure out where and when their audience is watching their shows. Down the line, this could become a real business for Dijit, admitted Toeman, saying: “Our business model is advertising and data.”