(WXIN) — It sounds too good to be true, but a startup company wants to give you a free television.
Is there a catch?
Of course, there is. The television is ad-supported. The bet is that the ads will subsidize a sustainable business.
Telly is the brainchild of Ilya Pozin, the co-founder of Pluto TV, a free ad-supported streaming television service.
Telly plans to give away free 55-inch TVs as part of a unique dual-screen setup with an integrated soundbar. The 4K HDR main set includes HDMI and USB inputs, along with a tuner for over-the-air channels. The “smart screen” at the bottom can display ads, news, sports scores, weather, stocks and more.
The first 500,000 sets will ship to customers this summer. The signup for those interested includes a survey asking you about your interests, income level, housing situation, shopping habits and more.
The TV includes microphones for voice commands and an HD camera that allows for video calls and the like. The camera has a physical shutter users can open and close. Any images or recordings from the camera are not stored on Telly servers, the company said.
The TV ships with an Android streaming stick, although customers can use any other device, such as a Roku, Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV, among other options.
“Telly is a revolutionary step forward for both consumers and advertisers. For too long, consumers have not been an equal part of the advertising value exchange,” Pozin said. “Companies are making billions of dollars from ads served on televisions, yet consumers have historically had to pay for both the TV and the content they watch. All of that changes today. When I co-founded Pluto TV, we created an entirely new model that offered amazing TV content to viewers for free. Now, with Telly, we are providing the actual television for free as well.”
The company said the TV will include video games (from “arcade classics to immersive multiplayer experiences”), music and fitness services. If sold at retail, it would cost more than $1,000, Pozin told the Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.
Telly was started in May 2021 and is backed by leaders from Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Vizio, Samsung, Roku, Comcast, Pluto TV, Sony, DIRECTV and Nielsen, the company said. Telly spent two years developing the dual-screen smart display.
Pozin insisted customers shouldn’t be “fooled by the free price” and boasted that Telly is offering the “most advanced television ever developed.”
“Now, all smart TVs come with ads. But you still pay for the TV. All of that changes today,” according to the company’s website. “During the signup process we ask questions about you and your household to optimize your ad experience. Brands in turn, pay for the non-intrusive ad on the Smart Screen. That’s how you get Telly free. Plain and simple. It’s time you got cut in on the deal.”
For example, you must use Telly as your primary TV and keep it connected to Wi-Fi and the internet at all times. You’re not allowed to use any software on your home internet that would block advertising capability.
Also, if you get a Telly TV and decide you no longer want to use it, you’re required to “return all products and services” to the company. You are not allowed to resell the TV.
The “free TV” comes at the price of customer information. Telly said it’s being upfront about the kind of data collected and how it plans to use it.
Since the television is ad-supported, the company will collect information for the purpose of “providing, customizing and improving the services.” The information provided to third parties will be anonymous, the company said.
The dual screen allows advertisers to specifically target ads based on a person’s interests.