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Forget ad-supported streaming — here come the ad-supported TVs

Forget ad-supported streaming — here come the ad-supported TVs


Would you like some ads with your free TV?

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A screenshot of the Telly website
This is the company that Pluto TV’s co-founder is reportedly working on.
Image: Telly

The co-founder of Pluto TV, Ilya Pozin, wants to give away free ad-supported TVs — yes, you read that right. That’s according to a report from Janko Roettgers in his Lowpass newsletter, who says the free television set will come with a second, built-in screen dedicated solely to ads and a soundbar.

Instead of profiting from TV sales, Roettgers reports Pozin’s new company, called Teevee Corporation, would make money off of the ads that appear on TV’s secondary screen. The idea isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds, as Vizio, for example, already makes far more money from ads and commissions than it does from selling TVs.

Sources tell Roettgers that the built-in screen would be about the same height as a smartphone and stretch across the whole width of the screen. Along with displaying ads, Roettgers says the built-in display will also come with various widgets that show the weather, news headlines, and sports scores from the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL.

The TV reportedly wouldn’t be a smart TV, either, and will instead bundle in existing streaming dongles, like those from Roku and Amazon. It’s not clear how far along this product is, which could be called “Telly,” according to a fictitious business name statement spotted by Roettgers. However, a suspected website for the device that says “the biggest thing to happen to TV since color” is coming in 2023, while a Teevee site similarly states that something is “coming later this year.”

The fact that this project is even rumored to be in the works is a testament to the trend of bundling ads and streaming. Just like my colleague David Pierce pointed out last month, the future of streaming is ads. As more people turn to free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) services to offset the costs of paid streaming subscriptions, Pozin, who’s the co-founder of one of the most popular FAST services on the market, could be ready to capitalize on that shift.