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More Than 100,000 People Registered for Telly’s Free 4K TV in First 36 Hours, Startup Claims

Showing that people can’t resist the offer of getting something for nothing, startup Telly said more than 100,000 people registered to get a free 4K TV set that displays a continuous rotation of ads on a second screen within the first 36 hours of launch.

Telly CEO and founder Ilya Pozin, who previously co-founded free-streaming company Pluto TV, said the interest in the offer surpassed “even our most optimistic expectations.”

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The 100,000-plus signups, averaging nearly one per second, came without Telly having to spend “a single dollar on marketing,” he continued, “and we’re just getting started!” Two-thirds of those signing up for a Telly are Gen Z and millennial households, according to Pozin, “and are eager to have a TV in the living room that matches their lifestyle.”

Telly says it expects to ship out the first of 500,000 free TVs in the U.S. starting this summer. The 55-inch TV sets would cost more than $1,000 at retail, according Pozin. The L.A.-based company launched its signup portal on Monday (May 15) after more than than two years in development.

The tradeoff: Telly users must submit detailed demographic info (such as age, gender and address), as well as purchasing behaviors and viewing habits, and agree to let their data be used for serving targeted ads. The company’s TV set has a 9-inch-high second screen with a dedicated space on the right-hand side that will display advertising all the time — even when you’re not watching anything on the main screen. The second screen also will show news, sports scores, weather or stock prices, or serve as a space for playing video games.

For advertisers, Pozin commented, “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.”

Telly is calculating that it will be able to generate enough advertising and affiliate revenue to make the model pay back, although it’s unclear how long it might take to recoup the sunk costs of the free TVs. Pozin wouldn’t say how much funding Telly has raised. Investors include include Rich Greenfield, general partner at LightShed Ventures, Gary Vaynerchuk’s Vayner Media, and several institutional and strategic investors (which Pozin wouldn’t identify).

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