A startup from the co-founder of Pluto TV is giving out 500,000 free TVs. Yep, you heard right. The 55-inch 4K models from Telly have all the bells and whistles. The only catch?
You pay with your data.
One long commercial break
The TVs have 4K HDR displays (translation: Not the very best you can buy, but totally solid), a built-in five-driver soundbar and a free 4K Android streaming stick. You can control it with your voice by saying, “Hey Telly” or through built-in motion sensors. There’s a camera in there, too.
The kicker: About a quarter of the second smaller screen that sits under the main screen displays ads. And you can’t opt out of any tracking. More on that below.
How smart is too smart?
You’ve probably noticed how cheap smart TVs are compared to phones and computers. In reality, all smart TVs are tracking what we do and watch — then packaging that up to sell to advertisers.
Vizio, for example, made $1.6 million in gross profit selling TVs in the first quarter of 2023. The company earned $73.8 million in profits on its Platform Plus business which includes advertising and viewer data.
When the product is free …
You’re the product. Pluto TV co-founder and Telly CEO Ilya Pozin says companies are making billions of dollars from ads, yet consumers have to pay for the TV and its content. Telly is cutting out the TV purchase … and asking you to hand over even more info.
To see what they get, look no further than the terms of service. You’ve got to keep that TV connected to Wi-Fi at all times and you can’t block any ads anywhere on your network. They get your name, personal details, what you watch and basically any other data they can glean from your TV habits.
How deep does this tube go?
Here’s what Pozin told Fast Company. “We know where you live, what your income bracket is — obviously it’s all anonymized — but we know what car you’re driving. We know when your lease is up. We know where you shop. We know what your favorite sports teams are, et cetera.”
Hey, at least he’s not being sneaky about it.
You can join the waitlist here. You’ll also have to download the Telly app. Should you? Honestly, that’s a choice you have to make.
In one sense, you’re going in with your eyes wide open. They’re honest about what they’re after. 👀 Or this might be a wake-up call to stop some of your TV’s tracking. Here’s how to get it done on Vizio, LG, Samsung and more.