Remember when streaming was choosing between Netflix and Hulu? The explosion in streaming services has been great for fans of endless content, but it can be a strain on our budgets.
We’ve seen numerous high-profile platforms debut in the last year, including Disney+ and HBO Max, but another one is on the horizon: NBC’s Peacock arrives on July 15.
Is Peacock Free?
Peacock will offer a free, ad-supported tier, which offers 7,500 hours of programming, including next-day access to current NBC series, as well as live news and sports television coverage. Upgrade to Peacock Premium for $5 a month ($49.99 a year) for 15,000 hours of live and on-demand content and 4K/HDR streaming. Peacock Premium Plus gets rid of ads for $10 per month ($99.99 per year).
Peacock offers a 7-day free trial; Peacock Premium will be free until Oct. 15 if you sign up via Android or Android TV.
How to Watch Peacock
Comcast Xfinity customers with an X1 or a Flex 4K streaming device already have access to Peacock at no additional cost. Open the app on your smart TV and sign up with an email to gain access. For everyone else, Peacock arrives on July 15.
Peacock will be accessible on a variety of platforms, including: iOS, iPadOS, and Android; Apple TV and Chromecast; Microsoft Xbox; as well as Vizio SmartCast and LG Smart TVs. It will arrive on PlayStation the week of July 20. Like HBO Max, however, NBCUniversal has not yet secured deals with Roku or Amazon for streaming on their devices, CNBC reports.
TV Shows Coming to Peacock
As you’d expect, the lion’s share of Peacock programming comes from the NBCUniversal library.
Unfortunately for users of other streaming services, Peacock will eventually populate its library with series pulled from rival platforms, like The Office, which departs Netflix for Peacock in 2021. Parks and Recreation wasn’t supposed to appear on Peacock until October, but it will apparently be available at launch, Peacock said on Twitter (it’s still on Netflix).
Frasier will also stream on Peacock, as will 30 Rock, with a reunion special airing on NBC this week and coming to Peacock on July 17. And Peacock has promised to offer “all 44 seasons” of SNL. Hulu currently offers seasons 1-5 and 30-44, and it’s unclear if that will change since NBCU parent company Comcast still has a 33 percent stake in Hulu.
Well-received shows like Superstore will be on Peacock. But one of the bigger draws is pretty much every show from Dick Wolf Productions, which means the very bingeable Law & Order and Chicago Fire franchises. Other dramas that will be on Peacock at launch include a bunch of inexplicably popular and long-lived USA Network entries like Psych (which is also getting a new spin-off, made-for-streaming movie) and Monk. Nostalgia entries include Airwolf and Columbo.
There’s also plenty of brainless reality TV to suck down, if that’s your bag. Peacock brings you shows like Ghost Hunters International and Chrisley Knows Best, along with dozens of others.
Peacock also signed a deal to license several TV shows from the ViacomCBS library, including Showtime series Ray Donovan and The Affair, plus Undercover Boss, The Game, Everybody Hates Chris and Real Husbands of Hollywood.
Movies Coming to Peacock
Peacock’s film library should be pretty competitive with Netflix and Hulu since NBCUniversal owns Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks, and Illumination. The company promises to have at least 600 movies streaming by the end of its first year.
At launch, you’ll be able to watch every movie in the Jurassic Park franchise, as well as numerous other classics, including E.T, Jaws, and American Psycho, along with tons of Hitchcock thrillers. Shrek and the Despicable Me series are also on board thanks to DreamWorks and Illumination.
Even more films are set to migrate over to Peacock after their licensing agreements expire with other streaming platforms, including the Godfather trilogy and several of the Fast and the Furious movies. The general high quality of Peacock’s movie offerings is one definite plus, as it’s not cluttered with a lot of B-movie junk like some of its competitors.
Original Shows Coming to Peacock
In 2020, the real selling point for streaming services is exclusive content. Ever since Netflix transformed itself from a mail-away DVD service, it’s blazed the trail for original shows and movies with a massive portfolio of offerings across all genres and audiences.
At launch, Peacock… doesn’t have that. The service debuts with under a dozen exclusive shows, several of which are just new seasons of long-running kids shows like Curious George. The COVID-19 production shutdown has pushed many prospective originals out to next year.
Probably the most interesting series on Peacock’s slate is Brave New World. This adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s seminal science-fiction novel has had a troubled path to the screen; it was first piloted for SyFy, then moved over to USA before finally going straight to streaming. The premise is that a future civilization has created world peace and contentment at the cost of just about everything that makes us human.
Also interesting—but not available at launch—is an animated adaptation of the popular podcast The Adventure Zone, created by the McElroy family. That property has already seen a graphic novel spin-off, and the McElroys had a show on Comcast’s short-lived Seeso platform, so we’re cautiously optimistic here.
Peacock is also going hard on the nostalgia. The service has already ordered two reboot series for Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster, hooking 90s and 80s kids, respectively. It will also be home to the second reboot of Battlestar Galactica, which is going to be a tough sell considering the last take on the concept is widely recognized as one of the best sci-fi series of all time.
As befits a modern streaming service, Peacock also has a handful of international titles snagged from overseas partners.
The Verdict: Is Peacock Worth the Money?
At launch, Peacock is probably not worth an extra $10 per month. You can get a taste for free, or deal with some ads for $5, but until The Office starts streaming, or licensing deals kick in later this year, you might want to save your cash. You’re also not going to find NBC super-hits like Friends or Seinfeld; Friends is on HBO Max, while Netflix signed a deal to stream Seinfeld starting next year (it’s currently on Hulu).
The service just doesn’t have the killer shows that would entice us into adding yet another service to our already crowded menu. It doesn’t have a unique identity, either—it’s just “here’s some stuff we own.”
That’s not to say the service won’t find its footing in the future. Comcast has massive resources behind it, and it definitely had big plans before COVID-19 basically set all media production back a year. If you’re a superfan of the content, go for it, but we’ll probably wait a few months, see how the originals look, and make a decision then. Stay tuned for PCMag’s full review.
Jason Cohen contributed to this story.