Telly is offering a free 55-inch TV — but you’ll be fined $1,000 if you do this

An image of Telly's free 4K TV with second display for ads
(Image credit: Telly)

Telly, a company founded by the co-founder of Pluto TV, Ilya Pozin, made waves in May when it announced that it would give customers a free 55-inch TV in exchange for having a permanent second display for advertisements. It turns out, however, that there are some pretty interesting details in the fine print. 

The most concerning of those details is a line about how the company could charge you far more than the cost of the TV if you break its terms of service (links to Telly's website). 

So what constitutes a break of the agreement? For starters, there’s a clause that prohibits "physical modifications to the product or attach peripheral devices to the product not expressly approved by Telly" — so no connecting a streaming stick to get around the ads. 

Secondly, Telly must be used as “the primary television in your household"; it must always be connected to the internet and you can’t use any ad-blockers on your Wi-Fi network to prevent the ads from being displayed. In short, if you try to weasel out of watching the ads, you could wind up paying $1,000 for a fairly mediocre 55-inch TV. 

Anything free always comes with a caveat 

There’s an old adage that I live by: “If a deal feels too good to be true, it probably is.” As you’d expect, this free TV actually comes with a lot of restrictions. 

That said, it’s easy to argue both sides here. By getting a “free” TV, you’re giving up the rights to your viewing privacy and are willing to adhere to some strict guidelines. For most folks, that’s a good enough reason not to sign up for the program. 

For roughly 500,000 customers who’ve already signed up and are about to receive their TVs, though, those weren’t compelling enough reasons not to sign up. And on some level, I don’t necessarily blame them.

Privacy is a tough commodity these days. Simply by using sites like Facebook and Twitter, you’re giving up a lot of your personal information. At this point though, if every site and smart platform is going to track your data anyways, you could at least get a free TV out of it.

Want an affordable TV that doesn’t force you to watch ads? Check out the relatively platform-agnostic Roku Plus Series 4K QLED TV

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Nick Pino
Managing Editor, TV and AV

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.