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A Startup Will Send You A 55-Inch 4K TV For Free As Long As You're Cool With A Second Screen That Runs Ads 24/7

You like that TV? Well, it could be yours for absolutely nothing — if you're ok with one catch.

Variety — The 55-inch main screen is a regular TV panel, with three HDMI inputs and an over-the-air tuner, plus an integrated soundbar. The Telly TVs don’t actually run any streaming apps that let you access services like Netflix, Prime Video or Disney+; instead, they’re bundled with a free Chromecast with Google TV adapter.

What’s new and different: The unit has a 9-inch-high second screen, affixed to the bottom of the set, which is real estate Telly will use for displaying news, sports scores, weather or stocks, or even letting users play video games. And, critically, Telly’s second screen features a dedicated space on the right-hand side that will display advertising — ads you can’t skip past and ads that stay on the screen the whole time you’re watching TV… and even when you’re not.

“Telly is giving away the device completely free,” said Pozin, the company’s founder and CEO. “The business will be entirely supported by advertising and affiliate revenue.”

The omnipresent ads on Telly’s TVs makes them far more valuable than traditional video advertising, Pozin argued: “We’re not just running 15-second prerolls.”

At some point, Pozin suggested, Telly users could place real-time sports bets on the second screen, or, say, order a pizza from Pizza Hut. (Of course, Telly would want to take a cut of each transaction.)

Telly on Monday launched its reservation system at freetelly.com, promising to start shipping the first 500,000 free TVs to qualifying U.S. consumers this summer. When you sign up through the company’s app, Telly will ask for specific demographic, TV-viewing and lifestyle info, which the company will use to target addressable ads to individual households. The TVs also have a built-in sensor that can detect the number of people who are watching at any particular time. Pozin emphasized that all of Telly’s features comply with privacy regulations.

I think I hate this, but I'm not 100 percent sure. The ads honestly don't even bother me as much as the sensor affixed to the TV that is watching the room at all times. Remember, if a company wants to give you something for free, there's a reason for it.

I actually kinda like the bottom display if the ads are confined to a quarter of the space. Having scores rotating down there on a college football Saturday would be an elite addition. I just can't get over getting a $1,000 TV for "free." Nothing is free, kids. This company is making their money back on you and it's almost certainly from more data than just knowing if you might want to order pizza while you watch football.

I don't know. It's an interesting idea. I'm fortunate to not be poor enough to have to decide if it's worth it, though.