Comcast’s NBCUniversal will launch its Peacock streaming service Wednesday, giving consumers something else to binge on while staying at home during the pandemic.
But there’s a good chance you know little or nothing about Peacock, a late entrant into the crowded streaming market dominated by Netflix and Hulu. As of mid-June, fewer than 27% of people had heard of Peacock, just above Quibi’s 25% and far below Netflix’s 93%, according to a Variety/YouGov poll.
So here’s what you need to know about Peacock — which though named for NBC’s iconic symbol, doesn’t use the actual emblem in its own logo.
If you’re a Comcast Xfinity TV and internet customer, you already have access to Peacock. The Philadelphia cable giant soft-launched the service to millions of its customers in mid-April. If you have the X1 platform or Flex streaming device, say “Peacock” into your voice remote to launch the application.
For everyone else, Peacock launches Wednesday on the web, smartphones, and internet-connected TVs. It can be downloaded on devices from Apple, Cox, Google, LG, Microsoft Xbox and Vizio. Sony’s Playstation 4 will carry Peacock starting the week of July 20.
But NBCUniversal still hasn’t struck a deal with Roku and Amazon to make Peacock available on those streaming players. And those two companies control 70% of the U.S. streaming device market as of early 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Peacock offers three options ranging from free to $10 a month.
The Premium version, with more than 20,000 hours of movies and shows, is available for $5 a month with advertisements. If you can’t stand commercials, you can pay $10 a month for an ad-free version. The Premium version with ads is available for Xfinity and Cox customers at no additional cost.
The free tier has less content, about 13,000 hours.
Comcast’s streaming strategy is quite different from its rivals'. Rather than seek more revenue from consumers through higher subscription fees, Comcast hopes to lure viewers with cheap or free content and show them ads, much like Hulu or YouTube.
By comparison, Netflix charges $13 a month (high definition), Amazon Prime Video goes for $9, HBO Max bills $15, and Disney+ costs customers $7. None of them shows ads. Hulu charges $6 for its ad-supported service and $12 for ad-free streaming.
As the name suggests, Peacock will largely carry content from the NBCUniversal library. That includes movies, shows, news, and sports from studios such as NBC, Universal Pictures, Dreamworks, Bravo, SYFY, MSNBC, and NBC Sports Network. Peacock will also feature content from ABC, CBS, FOX, Showtime, Lionsgate and Warner Bros., among others.
For movies, the free version includes the Bourne Identity, Jurassic Park, and The Matrix film franchises. For shows, it has new episodes of NBC current season series one week after they air, including hits This Is Us and The Blacklist, as well as a library of hundreds of shows such as 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live.
The Premium version adds original series, such as Brave New World; a larger library of shows — such as Two and a Half Men, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Law & Order — and more movies, including Shrek, Lone Survivor, and Ted.
In addition to on-demand content, Peacock users can scroll through live “channels,” too. Like old-school TV.
That includes live news from NBC News Now and Sky News, channels that air funny clips from The Office (“Office Shorts”) and Saturday Night Live (“SNL Vault”), 24-hour lifestyle programming from Today (”Today All Day”), and live sports such as Premier League soccer matches, coverage of the U.S. Open Championship and an NFL wild-card playoff game.