A free 55 inch TV sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? All you have to do in exchange is watch a few ads. I signed up because I thought I was watch television with ads for as long as I can remember, so it’s not a new concept.
What’s new in this ‘offer’ is that the free 55-inch TV has a screen attached to the bottom where adverts are displayed. And free TVs have already started shipping.
But surely nothing is completely free, so how are you Really pay for the 55-inch 4K TV? The answer to this question is the same as it is to most things when we talk about the Internet: you are pay with your data.
We first told you about Telly dual screen televisions during the company’s campaign in May. Telly has announced plans to ship 500,000 free TVs by the end of 2023, with plans for millions more to come in 2024.
In the first week of the campaign, more than 250,000 customers signed up for a free 4K TV – two-thirds of registrants were millennials or Gen Z, two populations that are increasingly hard to reach for advertisers.
Telly said these TVs already started shipping last week, along with some advertising partnerships with Magnite and Microsoft. TVs will support Spotify and LiveOne for audio streaming services.
Telly also announced that Nielsen, a data measurement company, will license Telly data to collect and analyze unique audience insights, which will provide valuable insights to advertisers and television programmers.
“We are thrilled to begin bringing consumers what is by far the smartest TV ever,” said Ilya Pozin, CEO and Founder of Telly.
“Our disruptive ad-supported business model makes TV completely free for consumers, but the most exciting thing about Telly is the technology that allows our dual-screen TV to get better with every update. We can’t wait for consumers to see what a true smart TV can do as we continue to surprise and delight Telly homes for years to come.”
To reserve a Telly, you must give the company your full name and shipping information, including a valid US phone number. Next, you need to download the Telly app to confirm your account, where you need to agree to their data collection terms and complete a survey to collect your preference information, which helps the company create an advertising profile about you.
Now keep in mind that this data collection process takes place even before you receive your TV.
Dallas Lawrence, chief strategy officer at Telly, explains the process: “Almost all smart TVs today collect consumption and audience data. The one major difference between the data we collect on consumption and audience and what all the major TV manufacturers collect today is that we ask the consumer to share it, and we give them a TV over $1,000 for free in exchange.”
This may be the process viewers sign up for, but when do we cross the line between mutual agreement and surveillance?
Telly TVs, for example, have a built-in camera system that customers can use to video conference and exercise apps, as well as games and other motion-tracking software.
The inclusion of the camera system is a turnoff for me, especially considering how many people are already putting cover on their laptop cameras.
However, Lawrence says the camera does not record or transmit anything to Telly. It comes with a physical shutter covering the camera, which the customer has to tell the TV to open, and it has a visual indicator that shows when it’s in use.
Lawrence says this collection of features is just one example that “highlights our approach to consumer privacy and control.”
So here’s the thing: many smart devices in our homes are already collecting data and selling it to data brokers — yes, I’m looking at you, Alexa.
We knowingly opt in to this process – we “agree and continue” without reading the fine print and handing over our data to tech companies without being aware of the potential implications.
I will test a Telly TV again if I have the chance. I’m willing to see what happens during the process, and I’ll try to find out how the company handles my information.
But I also believe it’s important to consider how low-income families or audiences with little awareness of the privacy issues at stake might be drawn into the deal, lured by promises of “free TV” and arguments from used-car salespeople.
Stay tuned to find out how I’m doing.