What is an ideal television watching experience? For me it’s getting a bag of pretzels, putting on 30 Rock, and zoning out for a few hours. For you it could be watching the Patriots game and checking out what other sporting events are happening. For someone else it may just be perusing the Home Shopping Network. Who am I to conjecture? (But if you’re the latter, you and I are probably not friends.)
Now startups are trying to make passive television viewing into a more encompassing experience. For example, there’s Dijit Media, which incorporates a discovery facet into TV along with external reminders. With last summer’s release of its discovery platform NextGuide, which let people search what was playing as well as providing recommendations for what people may like to watch. A few months later Dijit launched a reminder button that allowed television networks to integrate a button in social ad campaigns that would remind viewers to watch their shows once they aired.
With these features Dijit has been trying to somehow tie broadcasters’ promotions with television watching, all the while integrating a kind of second screen experience. Kind of like if Siri were TV Guide, I guess. Today it launched a slew of new integrations trying to further its stake in television viewers.
These new partnerships are with other television-based startups. There’s Thuuz, another discovery platform but primarily for sports, as well as Tomorrowish, which links video with the primary social media conversations going on about that specific video. Additionally, Dijit added access to the world’s largest online trailer service, The Internet Video Archive. Lastly, Simple.TV, a service that offers a DVR recording reminder for live programs, has joined in the fun.
These services are operating together, like a cooperative, meaning Dijit’s users can use NextGuide and its reminder service as an access hub.
Let me try to provide an example of all these integrations: I’m watching a program on Simple.TV (which is box that records live shows) and see a promo for the upcoming New York Jets game. Simple will now have Dijit’s “reminder” button on its program guide. Pressing it will not only give me an email reminder, but also sign me up for the NextGuide platform. Then, when I’m watching the game a few days later, I can access game ratings and recommendations for other sports programs I may like with the Thuuz integration on NextGuide. And if I get bored and start watching trailers for the next season of Family Guy, if it’s on the Internet Video Archive I will be able to set a NextGuide reminder to watch that. Or if I start checking Twitter and see a conversation about another show I like, Tomorrowish’s NextGuide integration also lets set a reminder.
As you can see, each company offers specific and singular television purposes, which are now vaguely connected via NextGuide’s reminder button. Dijit’s CEO and founder Jeremy Toeman believes, however, that together they create a new way for viewers and broadcasters to interact with the programs they watch.
As he sees it, the more features people are offered the more new features they want. “Humans,” he says, “just want more instant gratification.” These integrations will, he hopes, get viewers addicted to extraneous elements.
Do they actually want all these DVD-like extras? In Toeman’s eyes, well, duh. His proof is the fact that NextGuide’s usership nearly doubles every week. At the same time he wouldn’t mention what the customer base tally actually comes to.
While some second-screen and discovery experiences may be nice, how much do they really add to the experience? I don’t care what people say on the social networks about Parks and Recreation, nor do I necessarily need streamlined access to a large trove of trailers. Of course “need” is a loaded term. I just question if people will actually use this platform, love it, and continue to use it. There’s no way to know unless we have official customer numbers, which, alas, we don’t.
So I’m unsure about the traction Dijit can actually get. The reminder feature is Dijit’s real mainstay — and there is some value to it. I’m unsure, however, that as a total package this compendium of television startups is the future of television. Frankly, I just see television as the future of television without the added features.
At the same time, networks are signing up. When the reminder button first launched Toeman said Dijit had partnered with 11 networks. That number is now at 18. But business partners do not equal users, and I haven’t overheard my friends talking about their NextGuide discovery platform yet.
Then again, perhaps I’m not friends with the right people.
[Image credit: Flickr user cloudzilla]