Imagine watching your TV and being plagued by ads... it doesn't sound too far removed from reality, right? Telly is taking the TV advertising experience to a whole new level, offering at least 500,000 4K, 55-inch televisions for free. But they all come with an integrated screen below the TV display that is just for ads.
Telly, a startup company created by Pluto TV cofounder, Ilya Pozin, has been in production for about two years, with plans to ship millions of free TVs -- each with an attached nine-inch tall screen that will serve as real estate for advertising.
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The small displays affixed to the TVs will feature personalized ads that users can't bypass, as well as a sensor to determine how many people are watching TV at any given time.
But it's not all as bad as it sounds; sure, your TV will show you ads and all, but it will be completely free. The television itself is a 55-inch display with a built-in five-driver soundbar, three HDMI inputs, an OTA tuner, and a free Chromecast with a Google TV adapter.
Though the televisions don't have a proprietary operating system that lets users watch their favorite streaming services, you can add a Fire TV, Roku, or an Apple TV device.
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In order to get on the list for a free TV, users only need to sign up for a Telly account at FreeTelly.com and download the Telly mobile app, which will then ask you questions about your household and shopping habits to offer you a customized ad experience.
Pozin told Variety that he expects the advertising and affiliate revenue from the free Tellys will support the company, and will be far more valuable than traditional TV commercials. "We're not running 15-second prerolls", he said.
Instead, the ads will be omnipresent on the right side of the affixed display below the TV, there whether you're watching TV or not. The display will also show top news, weather and stock information, and sports scores, as well as give users the option to play video games, as each TV will include over 40 video games.
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The TVs will also feature a camera and Zoom integrations for videoconferencing, and even free motion-tracking fitness programs.
Telly partnered with MNTN, a TV ad company, to sell ads for the Telly system. It's also planning on letting users shop and order takeout or food delivery through the TV, with the company taking a percentage from each transaction.
With a free TV that has the purpose of selling you ads, you have to wonder, who is the product in the equation? Either way, I did sign up for one, so I will volunteer as tribute.