Despite the coronavirus pandemic, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock, launches tomorrow for Comcast customers, and is on track to arrive across the US on July 15.
That date could be pushed up. On Tuesday, Matt Strauss, Chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, said the company is evaluating an earlier launch date, given that so many people are staying at home and in need of entertainment during the pandemic.
In the meantime, the company is offering early access to Peacock starting tomorrow, April 15, for subscribers with Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex plans. Peacock plans to stand out by taking NBC’s and Universal Pictures’ library of classic and current TV shows and films, and making it available at no cost. Viewers simply have to watch occasional ads, which will be capped at five minutes per hour.
Peacock has a dedicated Saturday Night Live channel.
The basic plan will start with Peacock Free, which will give you access to over 7,500 hours of content, in addition to live news and TV shows. But if you pay $4.99 a month, you can get Peacock Premium, which expands the content library to 15,000+ hours, and lets you stream in 4K/HDR quality. Go ad-free for $10 per month.
Comcast subscribers get free access to Peacock Premium as part of the Xfinity bundle. To access the feature, simply say “Peacock” into your Xfinity voice remote. The new streaming service should also appear in the digital guides on an Xfinity TV or Flex subscription, although it may take a few weeks for the option to pop up.
As for everyone else, NBCUniversal plans on rolling out Peacock as an app you can download on July 15. However, the launch will occur without NBC’s coverage of the 2020 Olympics, which have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, Strauss also said COVID-19 has forced the company’s studios to hit pause on producing new TV shows slated for Peacock. So the original content on the streaming service may be thin this year. But he’s hopeful the remakes/reboots for Saved by The Bell and Punky Brewster will arrive on Peacock later this year as scheduled. Filming of another Peacock show, Brave New World, is also pretty much done, he said.
Going forward, Strauss expects Peacock’s content offerings will be a big draw in 2021, citing the return of the Olympics and how production will likely have resumed on new TV shows and movies. By then, Peacock will also have the rights to stream the classic TV show The Office, which is currently streaming on Netflix.