TeeVee debuts free Telly with built-in ads and tracking system

Mike Wheatley

U.S. consumers are being invited to sign up and receive one of the first free TVs courtesy of a startup called TeeVee. It’s offering people the chance to borrow a 55-inch 4K TV with an integrated second screen, soundbar and camera. But you might want to read the terms of the deal first.


The startup is the brainchild of Pluto TV co-founder Ilya Pozin, who has hit upon the concept of giving viewers a free TV, called Telly, with built-in advertising. The Telly has an extra screen that sits under the main screen, where it displays ads as well as widgets that show the weather, a music player, sports results and more.

"Telly is poised to not only disrupt the industry by delivering the most innovative TV in the market, but to revolutionize the industry's business model by enabling advertisers to fully subsidize the cost of the TV itself for the consumer, and deliver it completely for free," the company stated.

The Telly runs on TellyOS, a new operating system that’s built for dual screens. The Telly itself can display any kind of content, including satellite, cable and streaming, and it supports connected games consoles and media players via HDMI too.

The 55-inch Telly supports HDR in its software, but it seems unlikely that it also has the hardware to do so, at least not properly. On the other hand, the integrated soundbar with five drivers and a microphone does enable voice controls, there’s a built in camera for video calls, fitness apps and interactive gaming, with 40+ games available. There’s also a motion sensor to wake the Telly up when someone enters the room.

Bundled with the Telly is a 4K streaming stick with Android TV that provides access to apps, and a built-in tuner for traditional TV channels. It comes with three HDMI ports, 2 USB slots, WiFi and Bluetooth support. TeeVee also promises “frequent” updates are in store.

If that sounds like a great deal, you may want to check the terms of TeeVee’s contract, which states that the company will collect information about the audio and video content viewers watch, the channels they view and the duration of viewing sessions.

"You have the right to opt-out of sharing your Viewing and Activity Data, but unfortunately, that means you will no longer have access to the Services and must return the television,” the contractual terms state. “If you opt out and do not return the television to Telly, Telly will charge the credit card on file. Telly is only available in the United States. Unless otherwise agreed by Telly, you may not resell the Services.‌"

TeeVee says it has set up a reservation system for Telly on freetelly.com and will begin shipping its first 500,000 units this summer.

"Telly is the biggest innovation in television since color," said Pozin. "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. 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."