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More than 100,000 register for free Telly set

The startup said it's seeing significant interest in its free connected television, despite not spending anything on marketing.

The startup said it's seeing significant interest in its free connected television, despite not spending anything on marketing.

A prototype version of a 55-inch connected TV offered by startup tech company Telly. (Courtesy photo)
A prototype version of a 55-inch connected TV offered by startup tech company Telly. (Courtesy photo)

More than 100,000 people have filled out an online form for a chance to score a free connected television set, the company behind the push said on Thursday.

In a statement provided to The Desk Thursday afternoon, Telly founder and CEO Ilya Pozin said the company has seen strong interest from the public in its dual-screen connected TV set.

“In our first 36 hours, we had more than 100,000 people register for the ultimate free television upgrade for the living room, without spending a single dollar on marketing, and we’re just getting started,” Pozin said. “We averaged nearly a signup per second, which shows just how much excitement there is for both the groundbreaking new dual screen TV design and for the new ad supported business model Telly is introducing to the market.”

The flagship product of Telly is a 55-inch connected TV screen that includes an integrated soundbar and a secondary screen that sits below the device. The second screen, which is around 9 inches in height, will serve up a constant display of advertisements while also functioning as a utility for the main display.

Telly won’t cost users anything in physical money; instead, customers will pay for their set over time by allowing Telly to collect anonymized, but still personal, data on what they watch and other activities. That data will then be used to sell ad inventory to brands, and revenue from ad sales will supplement the cost of the set over time.

Related: Telly won’t bombard people with annoying ads, exec says

Telly has set a goal of shipping at least 500,000 TV sets at launch. Earlier this week, a Telly executive told Fierce Video the company was not going to have a problem meeting that goal.

On Thursday, Pozin said most of the customers who are signing up for Telly are in the Generation Z and Millennial demographic — the young demographic of viewers that is most attractive to advertisers — “who live their lives today across multiple screens and are eager to have a TV in the living room that matches their lifestyle.”

“For advertisers, it’s clear that Telly appeals to the most coveted audience every brand is trying to reach: younger, higher educated homes with larger household incomes who, because of cord cutting behaviors, are increasingly difficult to reach on legacy TVs,” Pozin said.

Telly knows the approximate ages of people who are interested in their TV sets because the company requires them to provide a birthdate when they fill out a form to get the TV.

Since Telly was unveiled on Monday, some have expressed concern that a free TV isn’t worth the trade-off of providing a significant amount of personal data, no matter how anonymized it is.

Telly executives have responded to this criticism by pointing out the company’s data collection practices are clearly explained to users up front, and claiming the type of data that is harvested from Telly TV sets is in line with what other connected TV hardware makers collect.

To that end, Telly fully expects its users to opt-in to its data collection practices and use the TV set on a regular basis, and tells customers that if they opt-out after getting a TV set, they have to return or pay for it.

Telly will start shipping its first batch of free TVs later this summer.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).