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Have a clear vision of where you want to go

In an interview with Alexandar Vassilev, CEO of the Joyn streaming platform, which has more than 60 free TV channels as well as exclusive series and films offered

First, introduce yourself

Alexandar Vassilev: My name is Alex and I am a tech enthusiast. I am originally from Bulgaria, but now I am based in Munich where I work as the CEO of the streaming platform Joyn. Before starting here, I spent a decade at Google and YouTube where, among other things, I worked on products such as Adwords for Video, XFP Video and Google Search. In between, I got a MBA from Harvard Business School. My background is in Computer Science and Computational Mathematics. 

Briefly introduce Joyn

Alexandar Vassilev: Joyn is a multi-tiered entertainment streaming platform. It offers more than 60 free-TV channels on live streams and media libraries as well as exclusives series and movies, Originals , and previews of not-yet-aired TV shows on demand. Joyn started by bundling the content of the free-TV channels of ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery but quickly expanded to include 15 other content partners on one platform and in one App. Our premium offering, Joyn PLUS+, expanded the range of offered content to include even more live TV channels in HD, Hollywood movies and series, Originals, and exclusives.

What is the vision behind Joyn?

Alexandar Vassilev: From the very beginning we wanted to create a streaming platform were viewers find stories that reflect their society, language and cultural identity. That is why we have a strong focus on hyperlocal and contextual content while still offering the best selection of international and well-known movies and series. We also wanted Joyn to be more than just a streaming platform: we wanted it to be a community. That is why for us feedback is such an essential part of our product.

We encourage our users to reach out to us and let us know about their experience, helping us build the platform they want to use. At Joyn we are a team of tech enthusiasts with the goal of creating the same joy consumers have come to appreciate from other successful digital services. We have high ambitions to build a strong product-market fit and create the first truly pan-European local video streaming service.

What were the biggest challenges?

We started Joyn, with only 3 people. Now we are more than 300. In less than 2 years we had to form as a company, create an adaptive culture that fosters innovation, and launch our full product to the market. In less than a year, we built what Joyn is today: a user-friendly, smoothly accessible platform, showing a wide range of exciting video content. 

How can you stream Joyn? Is Joyn only available in Germany?

Alexandar Vassilev: Joyn can be enjoyed for free without mandatory registration on iOS and Android devices as well as on the web and via smart TVs. Those who want even more exciting content can subscribe to our premium service Joyn PLUS+. The service is currently only available in Germany but we plan to expand across Europe in the very near future.

What are your tasks at Joyn?

Let me highlight two out of a range of tasks: First, my team and I have to make sure that Joyn has the right people in order to achieve our ambitious goals. Second, I pay a lot of attention to making sure that all actions we take are fully aligned with our long term vision and that our culture continues to grow into an even stronger competitive advantage.

How does a normal working day look for Alexandar Vassilev?

Alexandar Vassilev: I normally wake up quite early and have breakfast with my wife – this is something I rarely skip. Afterwards, I briefly check my inbox and then head to the office. My days are normally full of meetings and calls with employees and business partners. I also travel a lot, so my days are never quite the same. Nevertheless, I always try to block some time throughout the day where I can work uninterrupted. This helps me to keep a clear vison of our overall goals and targets.

What differentiates Joyn from other streaming platforms?

Joyn has a very strong focus on local stories. Our series “Jerks”, for example, set in Potsdam, champions local celebrities and a humor that may not translate elsewhere, but it certainly resonates with our viewers in Germany. On top of that, we are user driven like no other streaming platform in Germany. We work tirelessly to remove barriers to content consumption – and we know that key to that is providing a state-of-the-art user experience.

How difficult was the development of the software/apps?

Alexandar Vassilev: We created Joyn from scratch and we strong focus on developing all our key technology in-house instead of relying heavily on third parties. The hard work is paying off: as developers of our own technology we can very rapidly implement user feedback and improve our service constantly. 

Was it difficult to convince Broadcasters about your offering?

Luckily, most of them immediately saw the value of a smoothly accessible platform. By including live TV in our offering, we are giving broadcasters a chance to be discovered by younger audiences. Many of our younger viewers have discovered the benefits of live TV for the first time. And they love it. Live TV removes the burden of searching for content. No endless scrolling, evaluating options, and choosing. They just have to switch it on and relaxed watching curated content.

The idea of linear TV will stay very much alive. Most likely, streaming will even be its savior. 

How difficult was it to get clients for advertisement?

Alexandar Vassilev: It is always work, but doable. We are very lucky to have both ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery as our shareholders, who have long-established relationships with advertisers. On top, advertisers are fully aware of the importance of streaming platforms in order to reach key consumer segments. 

Which technical innovations will end up in your Apps and in your site in the future?

As tech and product enthusiasts, at Joyn we are constantly working to improve our service. To give you an example, just in the few months since our launch, in June 2019, we expanded our product to Google Chromecast and gave users more control over their journey via bookmarks, resume features, and a more personalized experience. And, most importantly, we introduced our premium service Joyn PLUS+. 

Our team has been working hard to make Joyn PLUS+ a success. Starting from content providers, we have entirely revamped our media onboarding process and pipelines, bringing more content to users, faster. We also ran multiple user experience studies to better understand user’s expectations related to a premium service and incorporated all learnings into our product. At the same time, we have strengthened the player performance across all platforms. 

This is just a snapshot of all the innovations we have been working on. We come every day to work with a clear goal in mind: to make sure that Joyn is always at the forefront of technology and user experience. 

Who is Joyn’s target group?

Alexandar Vassilev: It’s broad, given the range of offers we have. Furthermore, the number of people streaming in Germany is constantly rising. Our viewers can enjoy live TV, exclusive and Original content only available at our platform, catch up with their favorite TV show, and many more entertainment options. Everyone is welcome to join Joyn, and everyone can find something to enjoy at Joyn. 

What is the difference between Joyn and Joyn PLUS+?

Joyn PLUS+ offers more exclusive content, more Originals, the best movies and series, and even more Live-TV in HD. Joyn PLUS+ subscribers have access to more than 60 Live-TV-channels, including the Pay-TV channels ProSieben FUN, SAT.1 emotions, Kabel Eins CLASSICS, Eurosport 2, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. A large part of the Joyn media library is also available in HD and mostly free of advertisements for subscribers. The best movies and series of maxdome are also part of our PLUS+ offering. And, to top it all, the Eurosport Player will be integrated in Joyn PLUS+ in 2020.

Our Joyn basic offering is available for everyone to enjoy free of cost. It provides users with a wide range of video offering that we are constantly expanding. For example, we very recently added our own TV show production “Slavik – Auf Staats Nacken”, with the social media star Slavik Junge. We want everyone to be part of our Joyn community and that is why we offer different options to video consumption. 

How has Joyn developed? And are you happy with these developments?

Alexandar Vassilev: We are super happy, but still at the beginning. Since our launch in June 2019, we have built a rapidly-growing community of more than 6.5 million monthly active users and the number continues to grow. We are very proud of the team’s achievement, but are keeping our heads down and continue to work hard to improve.

In your opinion, how will the streaming market change?

Streaming has reached more than half of the adult population in Germany – still, the pie will get bigger. Streaming is not a winner takes it all business. While the market may at some point consolidate, it’s also true that content has always been a rather diverse sector. I don’t think it would exclusively take place on one or two global platforms. Hyperlocal and contextual offerings like ours are just starting to become bigger. We live in the golden age of streaming.

Where do you see Joyn in five years?

Alexandar Vassilev: Our goal at Joyn is to create a hyper-local pan-European streaming service and I truly believe that we are best equipped to achieve this goal. We have a great product, great content, and, most importantly, a team of people who is passionate and shares this goal. I am very optimistic about our future.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

That is difficult to know. Just a few years ago I was in Silicon Valley working for Google, and today I am based in Munich working to improve the way we consume and enjoy video content. In five years, I am pretty sure that I will continue shaping technology for everyone to enjoy. 

To end: what advice would you provide other founders?

Have a clear vision of where you want to go; surround yourself with people who share your passion and who are willing to challenge you throughout the journey; and most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! 

More information you will find here

Thank you Alexandar Vassilev for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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