TV Industry’s Idea Of Innovation: A Free TV With A Second Small TV That Constantly Shows You Ads | Techdirt

TV Industry’s Idea Of Innovation: A Free TV With A Second Small TV That Constantly Shows You Ads | Techdirt

TV Industry’s Idea Of Innovation: A Free TV With A Second Small TV That Constantly Shows You Ads

For years all I’ve ever wanted from TV manufacturers is a “dumb” TV that has a whole bunch of HDMI inputs, but no “smart” internals. Since I know the real money is increasingly made from spying on users and monetizing their every fart (while failing to properly secure the collected data), I’ve even been willing to pay extra for simplicity, quality, and privacy.

Yes, I know I can simply not connect my TV to the internet. But that’s not fixing my problem. Even basic HDMI switching and basic settings are now tethered to clunky, bloated, smart internals that take time to load, and get slower as the TV ages. Some manufacturers also block you from basic functions unless you agree to be tracked and monetized.

I just want a dumb TV. A high quality panel with a bunch of HDMI ports and a bare bones setting menu that works quickly. I don’t think it’s that crazy of a request. You’ll sometimes see enterprise-focused sets that get close, but often not at 65″ or above, and many often come at extreme cost yet still include odd feature carve outs (no 4K, no HDR).

But generally, the dumb-as-a-box-of-hammers TV is a segment the market simply doesn’t deem worth serving. Because there’s too much money to be made on sloppy surveillance and consumer data monetization.

Ironically, the market’s idea of innovation is now heading in the complete opposite direction. Companies have increasingly been making more money tracking you than they do off of the TV hardware. And now one company is taking that to its ultimate conclusion. A company by the name of Telly is now planning to give away free 4K TVs that would retail for $1,000.

The catch? The free TV not only will track and monetize your behavior in granular detail, it comes with a completely different second TV that will bombard you with ads, constantly. Even when the TV is off.

The unit has a 9-inch-high second screen, affixed to the bottom of the set, which is real estate Telly will use for displaying news, sports scores, weather or stocks, or even letting users play video games. And, critically, Telly’s second screen features a dedicated space on the right-hand side that will display advertising — ads you can’t skip past and ads that stay on the screen the whole time you’re watching TV… and even when you’re not.

I’m going to guess that this set goes notably beyond existing sets in the type and amount of identifiable datasets that are collected. Without being particularly transparent about it, or giving consumers much of any opt out control. I’d be curious to see how they tackle folks intent on blocking the lower screen from ever being viewed.

Aside from a lack of personal control, there’s also the issue of increasingly making privacy something only people with disposable income can afford, a trend that has also been steadily gaining speed over in the wireless space.

The folks behind this idea genuinely think they’ve invented the wheel simply because the set is free:

Telly’s bet is that it will be able to generate a return on the major upfront investment of getting its ad-enabled TVs in front of U.S. consumers. It’s not clear how long it might take Telly to recoup the sunk costs of the free TVs. Pozin argues that the unusual business plan is “a revolutionary step forward for both consumers and advertisers.”

I’m sure a free TV that annoys you constantly and strips away any semblance of personal control will be seen as a real crackerjack of a value by people increasingly conditioned to conflate annoyance and surveillance with innovation, but to me it feels more akin to bad dystopian YA fiction written by an inhalant addict with moderate to severe brain damage.