Telly’s Bold Move: Offering 500,000 Free TVs with Unstoppable Ads

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Telly has announced an ambitious plan to give away 500,000 free 55-inch 4K TVs featuring an integrated soundbar and a secondary screen dedicated to unstoppable ads and informational widgets. Pre-orders for these innovative TVs have begun today, pushing the smart TV business model to a new level.

Ilya Pozin, founder and CEO of Telly, explained, “We give away the device for free, and the entire business model is supported by our ad, data and affiliate revenue.” Telly has enlisted experts from the television and technology industries to develop the product. Pozin himself is no stranger to the business, having co-founded Pluto TV, an early player in ad-supported free streaming services that was acquired by Paramount in 2019.

The bottom screen of Telly’s TVs is more than just a billboard for ads. Approximately one-fourth of its area is allocated to advertising, while the remaining space is utilized for practical information and interactive features such as weather forecasts, news tickers, or music playback controls. This bottom panel continues to function during movie or TV show playback, albeit with reduced brightness, and can remain on even when the main screen is turned off.

The Telly TV will be shipped with a compact Android TV-based media box (TV stick) that users can connect to any of the three HDMI inputs. Telly’s own Android-based OS only controls the ads and interactive features of the TV. In addition to the extra screen and built-in soundbar, Telly TVs are equipped with a camera and microphone, enabling voice-controlled video chats on any screen. Zoom has been announced as the first video conferencing partner.

Telly envisions more applications for the second screen, such as smart home controls or CCTV management, though partnerships in these areas are yet to be established. Pozin is confident that the ecosystem will grow and evolve, with free Telly TVs becoming the most feature-rich smart TVs on the market.

However, the concept of a free TV comes with a trade-off – users must sacrifice some personal data confidentiality. Even pre-ordering a Telly TV requires completing a detailed survey with personal questions. This data will be used for TV scheduling and ad targeting.

Telly plans to collect a vast amount of anonymous user data, including demographics, income, car brand, favorite stores, rental periods, and viewed content. Users cannot opt out of this data collection. While this approach may seem at odds with an increasingly privacy-conscious society, Telly emphasizes its transparency. Pozin stated, “We are very frank and transparent. Everyone knows what they are getting into, what an exchange of values is.”

With many TV manufacturers preloading their models with free, ad-supported streaming services like Pluto TV and using ad revenue to supplement hardware margins, Pozin’s initiative might appear extreme. However, offering free content and devices in exchange for viewing non-disabled ads is not as absurd as it may initially seem. In a few years, TVs without a second, advertising screen might become a rarity.

Author Profile

Martin Harris
I'm Martin Harris, a tech writer with extensive experience, contributing to global publications. Trained in Computer Science, I merged my technical know-how with writing, becoming a technology journalist. I've covered diverse topics like AI and consumer electronics, contributing to top tech platforms. I participate in tech events for knowledge updating. Besides writing, I enjoy reading, photography, and aim to clarify technology's complexities to readers.

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