Pioneer of Free TV: Telly
Founded by Ilya Pozin, the co-founder of Pluto TV, hardware startup Telly is making waves with its latest offering. The company announced the launch of a free, dual-screen smart TV entirely funded by advertising. While this might sound like a dream come true for consumers, there's a catch. This isn't a typical TV experience, but rather a blend of traditional programming with a constant stream of advertisements.
What's the Catch?
While Telly's TV is indeed free, users must agree to watch ads around the clock. These ads run concurrently with TV shows and movies, appearing on a second, smaller screen mounted underneath the main display. This "Smart Screen" is always on, even when content is playing, displaying ads alongside widgets such as weather updates, sports scores, music playback, and stock information.
In exchange for a free smart TV, users must agree to share specific data with Telly. The company uses this data to fund the device's cost through advertising revenue. As Pozin explains, "For too long, consumers have not been an equal part of the advertising value exchange. With Telly, we are providing the actual television for free as well.”
Innovation or Intrusion?
The Smart Screen is significantly smaller than the main screen, with ads only occupying a quarter of it. This design feature may allow some users to ignore the ads, while others might find them distracting. It's worth noting that the user's data privacy is the price to pay for this free TV.
Telly's Tech Specs
Dual-screen TV: Main 55-inch 4K HDR screen and a secondary nine-inch screen.
Integrated five-driver soundbar.
Built-in camera, sensors, and microphone for gaming and workout features.
AI-powered voice assistant "Hey Telly".
Android TV streaming stick provided, with compatibility for Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV.
Video-calling feature for chatting with friends and family or watching content together.
Over 40 video games and motion-tracking fitness programs.
Access to personalized information such as your fantasy football roster with simple voice commands.
Telly's new smart TV is indeed a marvel of technology, but the cost of "free" might be too high for some. The notion of an ever-present stream of ads and the necessary sacrifice of personal data may pose significant concerns.
On the other hand, Telly's model could be seen as a revolutionary shift in the industry, turning traditional TV advertising on its head. As connected TV ad spending exceeded $15 billion in 2021, the potential revenue stream is undoubtedly lucrative. It's a bold experiment, and only time will tell if consumers are willing to make the trade-off.
The Bottom Line
Consumers can reserve their free smart TV at www.freetelly.com. Telly will begin shipping the device this summer. Currently, reservations are only being accepted within the U.S. With an estimated retail value of $1,000, Telly's free TV is a tantalizing prospect. However, the potential intrusion of privacy and the ever-present ad stream are factors that potential users will need to consider. As Pozin claims, "Consumers will never look at their television the same way again after Telly transforms the TV from a monitor on the wall into the most powerful and useful device in the home."