NextGuide Web launches. Can it possibly be a discovery powerhouse?

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on May 20, 2013

From The News Desk

Dijit Media’s latest venture, NextGuide Web, launched in beta today hoping to provide an easy web destination for TV and movie discovery. It aims to become a staple for home entertainment viewing – whether your use an actual TV or just your computer. In essence, Next Guide Web is just an online TV and movie program guide with some added social dazzle.

This may seem like I’m downplaying it. I’m not, it’s actually quite useful. NextGuide's highlights include watch list and queue creation (à la Netflix, but for a variety of different platforms), program reminders, DVR integration, and social recommendations. Also, the user interface is easy to follow and allows you to track your friends' recommendations easily, as well as discover other trending programs. All of these features can be found elsewhere, though. Think of it as a mixture of Sidereel, Netflix, TVGuide, Hulu, Facebook, and GoWatchIt. But it is convenient to have it all in one place while the DVR integration is handy for those who have Comcast or DirecTV.

As a product, though, it will have an uphill battle staking some claim in the entertainment world. NextGuide Web strikes me as potentially having the FNAC problem (Feature, Not A Company). While this can be said about many very successful businesses (have you heard of Google, or some company called Yahoo?), it could be a potentially fatal pitfall for NextGuide Web, preventing it from gaining traction.

Plexus Entertainment’s aforementioned GoWatchIt, provides some good context. GoWatchIt, much like NextGuide, is a movie discovery site, but a great deal of its business comes from the backend. While GoWatchIt’s site helps users discover movies, queue them, see where they’re playing, etc. Plexus also works with film studios to provide them with the raw data they want so badly. “We’re helping the film companies figure out who their audience is,” Plexus’ CEO David Larkin told me.

How does this apply to NextGuide? Well, according to Larkin there’s just not enough business out there to base a company solely on discovery. He learned this through trial and error and has been able to build a company whose clients include regular investors and strategic investors. "The big opportunity is not being a better Fandango or IMDB," he says.

No doubt, NextGuide and GoWatchIt are different entities, but comparing the two does help explain the market NextGuide is trying to tap. To be a stronghold, it will either have to capitalize and maximize one of its features (if it’s able to get a bunch of users, the social aspect is cool, somewhat new and interesting). Or it will have to figure out a backend business model, much like Larkin did.

I asked Dijit Media’s CEO Jeremy Toeman how he sees the business progressing, and he foresees more features on the horizon. “In the next few months we'll be adding a database of future-looking content, namely movies and shows that have yet to air,” he says, “People can track things they want to watch, which will then combine Theatrical releases, Live TV, DVRs, and Streaming services, across all devices.”

The dizzying number of features aside, as with any launch, success lies in adoption. That’s unforeseen for NextGuide Web, although the company already boasts three successful mobile discover apps: NextGuide for iPad, the Dijit Remote, and Miso.

Right now the beta is closed to current users with invites increasing on a week-by-week basis. But once it's fully available, what it will need to discover with NextGuide are lots of users, and quickly.

[Original image courtesy recombiner, logo via NextGuide]