What The Tech: Smarter Cheaper TV’s

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Amazon Prime Days are a good time to buy electronics. Amazon has dropped the price of smart TVs to their lowest prices ever. So have other retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and B&H Photo. Have you wondered why the cost of everything else is going up but TV prices are going down?

If so, you’ll be interested to know what I’ve found. 4 years ago a 65-inch Samsung TV was on sale from a regular price of $4,000 to $3,400. Checking prices today I found the same TV for sale for just $900. A Sony TV was $2,300 last year but can be purchased for under $900 today.

Manufacturers are selling TVs now for less than it costs them to make. How? Because they’re making money after you take the TV home.

The industry calls it “post-purchase monetization”. Rather than relying on sales, Samsung, Vizio, Sony, LG, and other manufacturers can track what shows you watch and sell the information to advertisers. That’s revenue they earn for as long as you own the TV.

Yes, they’re watching you, so to speak, while you watch TV.

The smart TV function that allows you to stream content from any streaming service, gathers data on who’s watching, how often they watch a show, and for how long they watch. That’s valuable information advertisers want, allowing them to target viewers with advertisements for items they’re likely to be interested in.

There’s nothing terrible about that since most of that data isn’t tied to personal information. They know what you watch but not necessarily your name, and this is important, the information is tied to your IP address. So ads can potentially be sent to any account using your internet
connection. That includes anything you do on your computer. So if you watch reruns of outdoor programs on your smart TV, it’s entirely possible that you’ll see targeted ads for outdoor supplies as you browse the internet. You could also receive special savings through an email account if it’s connected to the same network as your television.

Pretty wild huh?

If this is scary, you can turn off advertising tracking. Every TV manufacturer’s settings are different, so dive into the settings and look for privacy and turn off personalization. Some sets give you the option to reset or turn off ad tracking. It’s usually turned on by default.

If you’re really worried about the information smart TVs gather from you, you can always unplug them from the internet but you’ll lose most of the functionality. So, there is a price to pay for cheap TVs. You’re information.