Telly Introduces Free 4KTV with Second Screen Advertising

Hardware startup Telly has recently announced a smart TV giveaway, garnering attention within the industry.

As part of the campaign, Telly is offering users free 4K SmartTVs! Let me be precise …. they are giving away 500,000 4K Smart TVs for free.

What’s so special about these Smart TVs? Well, they come equipped with a second screen to incorporate advertisements into the viewing experience. The objective according to Telly, is to create a more interactive and engaging platform for both advertisers and viewers.

“Telly is the biggest innovation in television since color,” said Ilya Pozin, Founder and CEO of Telly.

“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.” 

The Telly TV

If you look at the Telly design, there is a large 55-inch 4K HDR panel linked to the secondary display through the company’s operating system dubbed “TellyOS”. The two are separated by a sound bar.

The TV does not come with any streaming apps installed. Instead, it comes with a ChromeCast that you can use to download and watch content on the apps you choose. With 3 HDMI inputs, I believe you could opt to use a Roku or Amazon FireTV stick instead.

telly free 4K television

It apparently supports (from the press release)

  • Video Calling: video call while watching TV
  • Video Games:  40 video games, from arcade classics to immersive multiplayer experiences.
  • Music: Play songs from popular music services on Telly’s stunning built-in five-driver sound bar.
  • Voice Assistant: “Hey Telly” connects living room experiences like nothing before with an innovative AI-driven voice assistant.
  • Fitness: Telly turns the family room into a fitness studio with free advanced motion-tracking fitness programs designed for every lifestyle.

Will the Telly boost Advertising?

I am a huge supporter of second screen advertising and I have often wondered why the humble smartphone in everybody’s hand isn’t a viable second-screen advertising option. Almost everyone I know has their smartphone in their hands while watching TV and it could be used to push ads, deals, coupons to the user.

Telly takes this to different extreme and has added a second screen to the TV itself!

This can be a big opportunity for advertisers if Telly is able to clean the data and present viable segments to the advertising market. With well-defined slots/spots, transitions, etc.

But, all of this has me confused – what is Telly if it does everything?

Always-On Second Screen?

I am frankly surprised by the concept of an “always-on” second screen right below your main screen. I am the kind of person who prefers to place my TV in a clutter-free background, so that I can concentrate on the movie/game that I am watching.

I am a little disconcerted by the fact that there is a relatively large screen with scrolling graphics, overlays, ads, etc. playing right below my main screen! Seems quite distracting … or is it an indication of what the future holds for us?

I for one, would love to move the EPG, or “watch next” to the second screen – that seems exciting to be honest.

Okay, with all these software-defined possibilities, I come back to my main question …..

What is Telly?

Telly has released a TV for now, but, what does that make Telly? Hardware vendor with a software division, or vice-versa? From my understanding, to pull this off, you need a team for

  • TV manufacturing, shipping, service, returns, etc.
  • the operating system,
  • the ad stack — tech, ops, and sales,
  • APIs and associated software stack,
  • Data cleaning, attribution, querying layers, etc.
  • recommendations and personalization
  • etc.

One example Telly has spoken about is “displaying scores or stock prices” while the main screen is running. I like this idea a lot but, I have a bunch of questions.

So, here is what I am imagining — you are watching a game, and the second screen is displaying scores and stats, right? Then the 2nd screen fades away, and a BMW zooms through the screen. Then you are presented with an offer, and after the ad completes, you get back to the game.

Now …

  • Who is going to build this tech stack? Especially for the second screen.
  • Where are the scores coming from? If a sports streaming provider (like ESPN) can’t build apps specifically for the Telly, then will Telly take on the burden of fetching, displaying, and updating the scores?
  • Who is going to define how an ad plays (tech specs), graphical requirements, what happens before and after an ad, etc.
Related:  Difference Between CSAI and SSAI (Client-Side Ad Insertion vs. Server-Side Ad Insertion)

This is where I am confused about Telly’s role in this product.

In their press release, they’ve mentioned “Telly’s artificial intelligence helps deliver reviews and content recommendations, all on one device.” So, they have a personalization and recommendation engine team as well?

Here’s my opinion: they should build a well-designed media streaming OS (TellyOS) and expose APIs to it. Then, they should leave it up to the app creators to build and populate the second screen. It’ll provide a seamless experience between the main and second screen. Of course, Telly can provide guidelines to the app developers along with an app approval process to prevent poorly designed apps cluttering their (eventual) store.

Btw, I think Samsung is doing a good job by actively defining, building, and controlling the ecosystem (Samsung TVs, Tizen OS, and Samsung Ads) and it is a good reference to look at. Same goes with Roku.

What do you think? Lots of job openings at Telly coming up, or a bunch of M&As?

Data Privacy

For a device such as the Telly to provide high-quality ads catered to your viewing preferences, it needs to collect data and a LOT of it. Their Terms and Conditions are pretty explicit in describing what they gather –

We may collect information about the audio and video content you watch, the channels you view, and the duration of your viewing sessions.  This feature is referred to as “Viewing Data.” Viewing Data is associated with the IP address for the television unit you are provided and a unique device number we assign. However, Telly will combine and associate your Viewing Data with your Telly account name if you create such an account or link to it to provide you with a more personalized experience on your TV.

We also collect information about how you interact with our TV, such as your search queries, settings preferences, applications you open, purchases or other transactions you make, buttons you select, the time, frequency and duration of your activities, the physical presence of you and any other individuals using the TV at any given time, and other usage data.  This feature is referred to as “Activity Data.” Activity data may be used to provide recommendations and customized content as described in this Supplement.

We may share your Viewing and Activity Data with third-party data partners and advertisers who use it to show you relevant ads and provide you with customized content.  These third-party data partners and advertisers are obligated to use this information only for the purpose of delivering advertising that are likely to be relevant to you.

And, if you opt out of the data collection … guess what happens?

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]. If you opt out and do not return the television to Telly, Telly will charge the credit card on file. To opt-out of any viewing and activity data collection, please send email: [email protected].

As they say … “If it is free, then you are the product.”

But, to be fair to Telly, I am certain every app in the media industry collects tons of data and doesn’t tell you about it. Or, if they do tell you, they’ll probably take care to hide it in teeny-tiny-font. Kudos to the Telly team for making the data collection details easy to find and understand.

Anyways, this is an interesting product, a great marketing strategy, and I am curious to see how it all turns out. Good luck to team Telly!

krishna rao vijayanagar
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar

Krishna Rao Vijayanagar, Ph.D., is the Editor-in-Chief of OTTVerse, a news portal covering tech and business news in the OTT industry.

With extensive experience in video encoding, streaming, analytics, monetization, end-to-end streaming, and more, Krishna has held multiple leadership roles in R&D, Engineering, and Product at companies such as Harmonic Inc., MediaMelon, and Airtel Digital. Krishna has published numerous articles and research papers and speaks at industry events to share his insights and perspectives on the fundamentals and the future of OTT streaming.

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