Search, Discover, Find: Our Chat with Plizy Founder Jonathan Benassaya on the Future of Video Discovery

Emiah Gardner | Feb 6, 2013

The web is overflowing with video content. From homemade cat videos to go-pro filmed action media to Oscar worthy movies and our favorite TV shows, users have access to an enormous amount of content on the web. With all of these options, decision paralysis often sets in, as users jump from YouTube to Amazon to Hulu and back again searching for entertainment. Say goodbye to the days of hopping between video services and hello to a fun, easy way of discovering and enjoying video content. Meet Plizy.

Plizy

Plizy promises to be the “media center in the cloud”, and with over 100,000,000 videos available, plus social and personalization components, that statement could not be more true.  Plizy streamlines the search, discovery, and viewing process by aggregating content from dozens of video services all on one platform.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Plizy founder, Jonathan Benassaya, and got the inside scoop on how Plizy has developed, where it is going, and most importantly, why you should be excited about it.

What is Plizy?

Plizy is the media center in the cloud that allows users to search, organize, watch and share any video content that is available online from dozens of video services including Amazon Prime, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Dailymotion, HBO Go, Hulu, Hulu+, iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo, and YouTube. Plizy aggregates more than 550,000 movies, 200,000 shows and 100,000,000 videos from the major video services making it the most comprehensive database available on the market.

How and when did you come up with the idea behind Plizy? How has it evolved?

Plizy ipad appTo me, Plizy is the natural way people should view content. Personally, I found that the amount of video choices available both online and from cable providers gave me more than enough content to watch, but could be overwhelming and difficult to sift through. I founded Plizy in order to change how content is viewed by offering frictionless access to any video content—no matter what provider it comes from. At the same time, I wanted to understand the relationship between viewing content and the social graph better. The first version of Plizy was launched in May 2011 to do just that. Since then, Plizy has evolved in a number of ways. We’ve been able to construct an entertainment graph with more than one billion items in order to build our recommendations and create user clusters. Our objective was to be able to identify people with the same tastes in order to optimize our content recommendations. Since then, the app has been featured four times in the app store as well as in the top ten downloads in the entertainment category within many countries.

Plizy could be a great addition to Smart TVs and streaming players like Roku; do you have plans to integrate Plizy onto those platforms?

You can already watch all Plizy content through an apple TV. Plizy is a service that could run on any of those set top boxes. Our objective is really to help users access to the content that they watch instead of browsing for hours with a tiny remote.  You can use Plizy as your interface to search and discover, and use airplay to send it to your Apple TV for instance.

There is a social component to Plizy which is great for the discovery aspect. Will there also be personalized discovery results based on videos users already like?

Plizy discovery platformYes – this personalization is key to Plizy. You sign up for Plizy through Facebook connect to make the viewing experience social and interactive with your friends as well as to help recommend relevant videos for you based on what you already like. With Plizy, users can create their own unique queue and video profile in order to organize, keep track of and receive updates about their favorite shows across all providers. Users can seamlessly share their favorite videos with friends via email, Facebook and Twitter.

You went from the videogame market with ViGao to video content. What sparked your interest in video streaming?

When I was 23, I co-founded ViGaO, which became a leader in video game market research. I saw the shift of this industry towards online games, which led me to create Magicparty in 2005. Magicparty became a leading technology provider for in-game advertising. In 2007, I co-founded Deezer.com, the first and largest legal ad-supported streaming service for music in Europe. I then decided to take a closer look at the video streaming space and founded Plizy as a way to organize and streamline all sources of video content – including web, TV shows and movies – into one accessible application.

How did you come up with the name? What does it mean?

Our mission is to help people get access to the video entertainment that they want, when they want. The name Plizy is derived from the pleasure and easiness a user gets from having to use this hassle-free service.

What does Plizy offer users that Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, etc. do not?

Plizy is necessary to streamline the video viewing and sharing process – solving the fragmentation problem across these services and offering access to all types of video content, as opposed to just UGC or paid content. Additionally, Plizy is unique to other content viewing sites in that it offers a 100% personalized viewing platform and brings friends into the viewing experience, rather than just a search directory of content. The platform evolves with a user’s feedback and interests. Plizy also helps users watch content tailored to them by showing them which of their friends have watched and liked a particular video.

What do you want users to take away from being a Plizy user?

Plizy the walking deadWe are trying to solve the fragmentation problem and allow viewers to watch content when and where they want through one simple platform.  Plizy is really for anyone who wants an easy way to search, organize, watch and share content without hassle.

So far, what have been your biggest hurdles with Plizy? How did you overcome them?

When we initially started Plizy, our team was based in both Paris and San Francisco which created natural challenges. Now that our whole team is based in San Francisco, it has been so much easier to have collaborative innovation and build the future of Plizy.

What are your thoughts on the future of streaming video content?

When I think about the future of video streaming content, I think about all kinds of content from short form video to long form movies. Thinking about the industry in its entirety, I believe we will see a huge increase in the quality and the quantity of content produced for the web. The web is now perceived as a true distribution channel for videos, not only for funny animal videos. The barriers to entry are fading – you can now shoot amazing videos with GoPro types of devices, the web audience is growing and website editors are investing a lot of time. The future of web content is very promising and at some point I think that there will be no difference between TV content and web content.

What are you currently most excited about?

The Plizy team is currently working towards our goal to become the service of choice when it comes to searching and discovering video entertainment. Building out our service for IOS and Android will help us get there. We are focused on building our product to address the online video market – a market of more than $50B in revenue. I feel as though Plizy has the potential to be a worldwide application.

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