The co-founder of Pluto TV is giving away free TVs — here’s the catch

The Telly TV on a black background. (Source:
(Image credit: Teevee Corporation)

A new startup called Teevee Corporation wants to give away free TVs to anyone who wants one. The catch? They come with a second screen attached that shows advertisements.

Teevee Corporation is the brainchild of Pluto TV co-founder Ilya Pozin and was founded back in 2021. Its goal is to give away free hardware and make up the cost via advertising revenue — similar, in some ways, to free streaming services like Pluto TV and Amazon Freevee that make money by showing ads.

"The goal of the company is to give the TV away for free, and monetize it through ads on that second screen."

Janko Roettgers, Lowpass

Reporting on the startup comes via Lowpass, who says “Teevee Corporation, as Pozin’s new company is called, has been building a new kind of TV set that includes a persistent second screen for advertising as well as informational widgets. The goal of the company is to give the TV away for free, and monetize it through ads on that second screen. Teevee has been operating in stealth, and its plans haven’t been previously reported.”

The second screen in question, according to the outlet's sources, is around the height of a phone screen and stretches all the way across the screen. The second screen could show advertising that’s relevant to the content being shown on the larger screen, or it can host widgets that display things like the weather forecast, sports scores or stock tickers. 

The TV isn't the marketable product  — you are

The Vizio M-Series Quantum X on a white background.

Vizio's WatchFree service works along the same principles as Teevee Corporation's proposed Telly TV. (Image credit: Best Buy)

At first, the idea sounds untenable: how can a TV company give away a free product? Simple. It works along the same principles of Facebook and Twitter. The device isn't the marketable product — the users are. Get enough people watching and the advertising revenue makes up the cost of the product or service.

In some ways, this is already the way TV companies work. Many of them have smart platforms installed on the TV that have advertising in them to subsidize the cost. Most of these platforms allow you to opt out of targeted advertising when setting up the TV, but some have gotten into hot water for targeting ads without your permission. 

So how sure are we that it will be free? Currently, Teevee Corporation has parked the website Go to it and you'll see a cryptic message ("The biggest thing to happen to TV since color") and the outline of a TV with an orange backlight.   

As for what the final product (likely to be named Telly) will look like, there’s not much information available yet. All we know is that it’s “an all-in-one device, combining a decently-sized TV, a soundbar and a second screen in a single chassis”. Decent-size could mean anything from a 32-inch HDTV that often sell for under $100 all the way up to a 50- or 55-inch model that sell for just under $400. Until Teevee starts production on its own TV models, however, it might just distribute a streaming dongle according to the report. 

If the idea of a TV that watches what you're watching and advertises to you doesn't frighten you, Telly could be a cost-effective way to get another TV into your house. Not really into the idea of targeted advertising? Check out our guide to the best budget TVs to grab a cheaper TV and make sure you disable targeted advertisements during the setup process.

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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.