Back in 2020, millions of families got instant access to Peacock thanks to a free rollout to Comcast’s Xfinity broadband customers. By the end of the year, Peacock was expected to have more than 30 million users. However, with so many streaming options out there, 2 years later it stands 3 million users shy of that target – and less than half of those are paid subscribers. But does that mean it’s not worth considering? Not at all. And our in-depth Peacock review will help you decide how it fits into your streaming portfolio.
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What is Peacock?
It was only a matter of time before NBCUniversal took another stab at direct-to-consumer streaming. The media giant’s less-than-stellar history isn’t very inspiring. SeeSo launched in 2017 as a streaming service focused on comedy but it only survived a year before being shut down. And even though NBCUniversal was one of the original contributors to Hulu way back in 2007, that popular streaming service is now majority-owned by Disney.
With the success of Netflix and arrival of streaming platforms from NBC’s traditional competitors, CBS and ABC, in 2019 NBCUniversal announced plans to launch an NBC-centric streaming service. “We’re going to unite the whole company behind it,” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke explained to Variety at the time.
In early 2020, just as everyone had to stay home due to COVID-19, Peacock launched as a limited-access service. Peacock is owned by NBCUniversal which is owned by Comcast which owns the Xfinity cable and broadband service provider. In April, Xfinity’s customers received word that they could get the ad-supported Peacock Premium plan free with their broadband subscription.
Peacock formally launched across the United States in mid-2020 with an ad-supported, freemium business model. A free subscription tier provides a limited selection of linear channels and on-demand content from the Peacock catalog. Getting access to everything Peacock has to offer requires the $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan. That still includes ads, but for another 5 bucks a month, the Premium Plus plan gives you an ad-free experience.
Peacock 60-Second Summary
The streaming service gives people a choice between free access to 10,000+ hours of Peacock’s content or full access to the entire library, either with ads or without. Peacock hopes that its hybrid approach to streaming can leverage NBC’s advertising infrastructure to generate revenue in a way that other services can’t.
Peacock draws on NBCUniversal’s library of hit shows like The Office, Law & Order SVU, and Chicago Fire. Premium subscribers (anyone with a paid account) get next-day access to all current shows airing on NBC and Bravo. There’s also a growing slate of Peacock original TV shows, like The Resort, Bel-Air and the latest iteration of Queer as Folk, as well as classics from the 60s through 90s, like The Munsters, Murder, She Wrote, and Quantum Leap.
The movie library reportedly has 2,600+ titles, including hit franchises like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Fast and Furious. It also gets exclusive first-pay-window streaming rights for major theatrically released films, such as The Northman and Jurassic World Dominion.
The pros and cons of Peacock
While it’s hard to argue with free, especially when there’s a growing list of completely free services to choose from, most of Peacock’s free TV content is geared toward getting you to sign up for a paid plan. And most movies are locked behind the paywall. But the ad-supported Premium plan is one of the lowest-priced options out there and serves up enough content to satisfy most TV-hungry families.
8 things Peacock gets right
- Free option with 10,000+ hours of content
- Affordable monthly subscriptions
- Large catalog of popular content
- Mix of live and on-demand content
- Live sports, including live Premier League matches
- Local news for select markets
- Exclusive first-pay-window theatrical releases
- Minimal ads with ad-supported plan
5 things Peacock need to improve
- Slow-loading, sluggish interface
- Key NBC content is missing (ex: Friends, Seinfeld)
- Browse and search functions need improvement
- Some shows don’t have past seasons
- Content hubs should be more prominent
Peacock has 3 plans to choose from
Like every traditional broadcast network, NBCUniversal sees advertising as a fundamental part of the TV business. Rather than relying on a pure subscription business model like Netflix or a pure advertising structure like Pluto TV, Peacock uses a blend of advertising and subscriptions, similar to Hulu’s basic ad-supported plan. This seems to be the direction the market’s heading, as Disney+ and Netflix are both introducing cheaper (not free), ad-supported plans in the next few months.
Peacock has a free plan available
Peacock’s base plan is completely free, but users will have limited access to Peacock’s content catalog. They can watch Peacock’s live linear channels as well as a limited selection of on-demand content. However, the amount of free on-demand content looks to be decreasing. Earlier this year, the first 2 seasons of The Office and all 8 seasons of Psych could be watched for free. Now both shows are completely behind the paywall.
There are some shows you can really dig into, like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which has all 10 seasons available for free, but finding them can be a challenge as there’s no “Free” category in the main menu and no way to search for free content.
As noted above, the free plan is more like a free preview and a way for NBCUniversal to introduce its new shows. Seeing as the free plan is not being promoted anymore – and has even been relegated to a footnote on Peacock’s website – it’s clear that the 2 paid plans are what the company expects most people to get.
Peacock’s Premium plan is ad-supported
The ad-supported Premium plan is one of the cheapest streaming options out there and gives you total access to all of the content and features Peacock offers.
Peacock’s Premium Plus plan is ad-free
Premium Plus costs twice as much as the Premium plan, but it’s still roughly the same price or cheaper compared to other streaming services. It removes the ads and lets you download select titles to watch offline. However, with the ads in the Premium plan not being overly intrusive, the downloadable content is really the big draw of the Plus plan.
Choosing an annual plan when signing up for either paid option works out to around 2 months free over the course of a year. If you follow any of NBC’s primetime shows that typically have 20+ episodes in a season – such as Chicago Med or Fire or P.D. – signing up for a year seems like a no-brainer.
How many ads are there on Peacock?
Unlike on cable or broadcast television, the ads on Peacock are not too bad. You can expect about 4 ad breaks in an “hour-long” TV show – which are only around 42 minutes on streaming – with breaks ranging from 30 to 90 seconds, but most less than 60.
Movies have around 2 or 3 minutes of ads before the opening credits and nothing afterward, so they’re essentially ad-free.
Peacock has a 7-day free trial
Peacock offers a 7-day free trial for new users. Xfinity customers get Peacock Premium free of charge, so no free trial is needed. However, those Peacock users can get a free trial of Peacock Premium Plus to try out the ad-free experience.
Peacock has an impressive library of on-demand content
Peacock is following a strategy similar to Paramount+ and the Hulu and Disney+ combination. Since NBCUniversal has been producing content for television and the silver screen for decades, it has an enormous content catalog that it can open up to subscribers.
Peacock has original and exclusive content
NBCUniversal is producing a range of episodic shows and other content exclusive to Peacock, some of which might be broadcast on NBC at a later date, such as The Resort. Check out The Complete List of Peacock Originals for a deep dive into these shows.
Some of the popular originals created for the platform include Dr. Death, Girls5Eva and One of Us Is Lying. Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, a movie based on the popular TV series Psych, has a solid 7.3/10 rating on IMDb.
Peacock upped its reboot game with new versions of Quantum Leap, Battlestar Galactica, Queer as Folk, Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell. Granted, the latter 2 of those shows were both canceled after a single season.
In another interesting development, earlier this month, after 57 years on NBC, The Days of Our Lives moved from network television to its exclusive new home on Peacock – with a paid plan. The daytime soap opera is one of the longest-running scripted TV shows in the world and its move to streaming exemplifies the change in how people watch television.
Peacock has 3rd-party content licensing deals
While some of NBC’s biggest TV shows ever – namely Seinfeld and Friends – are absent from the platform, Peacock has licensing deals for 3rd-party content as well. The most noteworthy of these is a deal with Paramount to stream its movies and TV shows. It makes Peacock the exclusive streamer of previous seasons of Yellowstone, one of Paramount’s biggest shows – making them not even available on Paramount+.
However, hits like Seinfeld and Friends are not on Peacock because NBCUniversal also licenses its shows to others. This can lead to past seasons of shows being removed before you’ve had a chance to watch them, such as Law & Order: Organized Crime.
Peacock channels offer a mix of news, sports and entertainment
In addition to the original NBC broadcast network, there are several NBC-branded cable channels. NBC News produces content on CNBC and MSNBC as well as the NBC News Now digital platform. The NBC Sports Group broadcasts sports content on NBC, NBC Sports, and the NBC regional sports channels.
NBCUniversal also operates several other cable channels. Entertainment and lifestyle channels include Bravo, E!, Oxygen, Syfy, Universal Kids and the USA Network. Other sports channels include the Golf Channel and the Olympic Channel.
Through Telemundo, NBCUniversal produces a full range of Spanish-language content. This includes news, entertainment and lifestyle content on the Telemundo, Universo and TeleXitos channels. Spanish-language sports content is available through Telemundo Deportes.
What’s streaming live on Peacock?
To get an idea of what kind of linear programming is available, Flixed created a channel guide for Peacock. Free to access from any browser, our guide lets you see what’s on right now as well as what’s coming over the next 7 days. It’s also a handy tool for current Peacock subscribers wanting to see what else is on without leaving the fullscreen streaming experience.
What movies are in Peacock’s on-demand library?
Peacock does not include every movie ever produced by NBCUniversal’s studios. Instead, the streaming service rotates titles in and out of the content library to keep it fresh for subscribers.
Founded in 1912, Universal Pictures has more than a century of movie-making experience to contribute to Peacock. Of course, you won’t be watching Universal’s silent movies and only a few titles from before the 1950s appear in Peacock’s catalog. However, you will find major motion pictures from across the second half of the 20th Century and into the 21st. This includes Peter Jackson’s reinterpretation of King Kong and award-winning classics like The Sting.
With 110 years of movies in its library, it would be nice to be able to search and browse by year or decade. But there’s no such option.
Universal Pictures also owns several other movie studios. Dreamworks Animation produced hit franchises like Shrek and the Trolls series TrollsTopia, which premiered on Peacock and Hulu. Working Title Films is a British production studio responsible for such films as About a Boy and Notting Hill, both currently streaming on Peacock.
Peacock’s interface is good, but not great
Peacock’s interface changes slightly depending on your device – for example, it opens to the “Home” tab on Fire TV but the “Featured” tab in browsers – but navigation is basically the same across platforms. The main navigation has a toggle for its 2 main sections – Channels for live TV and Browse for on-demand content. The Browse menu has 6 options: Home/Featured, Movies, TV Shows, Sports, WWE and My Stuff. There’s also a search option that isn’t part of the main menu in browsers.
What is search like on Peacock?
Peacock’s search function is in need of an overhaul. For a brief while earlier this year, the platform let you search by director or actor, but that appears to have been removed. The only options currently listed are to search by title, live event or genre.
As noted above, there’s no way to search by year or even browse by decade. Furthermore, a genre search for “action” garnered just 40 results, which seems rather low considering the size of the library Peacock is supposed to have.
What is Peacock’s channel guide like?
The Channels section provides a traditional “linear” TV experience with continually-running channels. NBC Now Live and Sky News are both live streams from the news networks. Other channels are curated around special interests or shows like Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon and reality TV.
The programming guide works like a cable interface where you scroll up and down to find other channels. The interface only lets you see what programs are on next and you can’t pause or record the programs.
What is Peacock’s browse function like?
The Browse button is the gateway to Peacock’s on-demand catalog. As mentioned above, it is divided into 6 sections: Home (or Featured), Movies, TV Shows, Sports, WWE and My Stuff.
All of the categories are structured in the same way. There’s a carousel of featured content at the top and specially-curated lists below. The last list contains all of the content in that category. If you scroll to the left of any list, you get an option to see everything. This is most useful when looking at the full content list.
Each category includes curated collections of content on Peacock. For example, TV Shows has a “Teenage Dreams & Nightmares” collection that includes Peacock originals like Vampire Academy, One Of Us Is Lying, and The Girl in the Woods. And Sports has “The Film Room” collection which includes popular sports flicks like Happy Gilmore, Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side.
Browse the TV Shows library on Peacock
The TV Shows category includes 340+ programs produced by NBC and its various cable channels. Featured shows include Chicago Fire, New Amsterdam, The Voice and more.
The list of science fiction shows includes the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, Heroes and the original Seaquest DSV as well as currently-airing shows like Manifest. However, NBC is clearly much stronger at comedy than sci-fi, and you’ll find an extensive selection of old and new shows, including 11 seasons each of Cheers and Frasier, as well as Peacock originals like Girls5Eva and The Amber Ruffin Show.
Browse the Movies library on Peacock
In Movies, you’ll find 900+ titles from Universal dating back to the 1930s. Peacock has integrated movie ratings from Rotten Tomatoes to help you choose which films to watch. However, you won’t find every movie Universal has made since Peacock rotates titles in and out of its library.
Some of the classic films in the Peacock collection include a dozen Alfred Hitchcock movies from 1942’s Saboteur to the 1972 film Frenzy. The 2 oldest films currently on the platform, Frankenstein and Dracula, are both from 1931 but they’re set to rotate off Peacock later this week. 2-Headed Shark Attack, starring Carmen Electra, is a classic of a different sort but goes to show that there’s probably something for everyone.
Browse the Kids content library on Peacock
You can create up to 6 profiles in your Peacock account with the option to make any number of them a kid profile, which opens into a kid-friendly content hub. Kids programming includes family-friendly movies and TV shows. You’ll find classic and modern animations like Woody Woodpecker, Curious George and Baby Einstein.
There’s also a good selection of Dreamworks animated films, such as The Croods, Madagascar and Shrek, and it’s the only place to stream Dreamworks’ latest feature, The Bad Guys.
Live-action kids shows include reality programs like American Ninja Warrior Junior and Get Out of My Room.
Browse Sports on Peacock
The content you’ll find in the Sports section is another area that’s improved a lot since launch. Like other categories, you’ll find carousels of content, starting with Live & Upcoming broadcasts. Below that you’ll find Latest Events, Highlights & News conveniently separated by sport, followed by Top Sports Stories.
After those, you’ll find Featured Channels and live events for everything from soccer to horse racing to baseball. There are also content hubs for leagues and sports, such as MLB, USGA, Premier League and many more.
Browse Latino content on Peacock
When it launched Peacock had a Latino category in the top navigation menu. It’s since been removed, but the content is still there. There is now a Telemundo content hub that can be accessed from the “Featured Brands” carousel – which is unfortunately buried 15 carousels deep on the Featured/Home screen. Other Latino content can be found through search.
Latino content includes popular shows from NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo such as the reality show Larrymania. Telemundo’s dramas include 100 Días para Enamoramos, La Doña and Preso No. 1.
Telemundo’s sports and news operations also contribute content to the Peacock library. You’ll find clips of recent news reports in collections featuring news, sports, and entertainment.
Navigating the Account screen on Peacock
The Account section is accessed through your profile icon, then selecting “Account”. It lets you change a handful of settings in the Peacock app. Since security and parental control features, as well as subscriptions, are applied globally across all devices, you’ll have to log into the Peacock website to change those.
You have several settings you can change on the Peacock site. You can turn off Peacock’s email notifications, although you’ll still get emails about your account. Enhanced security, which is off by default, requires you to confirm your identity before changing personal information. Finally, you can create a PIN to activate Peacock’s parental control system.
What is Peacock’s stream quality like?
Even though it takes a long time to load and its menu is a bit laggy, Peacock’s streaming quality is consistently good with no noticeable degradation in image quality or dropped frames.
Every once in a while, the stream pauses for buffering when a show is first starting or resuming, but not really enough to greatly impact the viewing experience.
What video and audio formats does Peacock support?
Peacock currently supports 4K Ultra HD resolution on Apple TV and Roku devices. On other devices content streams at HD (1080p) quality. Select content is available to stream in Dolby Digital surround sound.
Older on-demand content may only be available in HD, regardless of your device. Live streams from NBC’s news and sports operations will come across in either 720p or 1080p HD resolution.
Peacock can be watched on a wide range of devices
When Peacock launched its preview to Xfinity broadband subscribers, it was only available on the cable provider’s proprietary streaming box. Once the streaming service launched nationwide, however, it was able to roll out apps to the most popular streaming platforms.
- Computer: All major web browsers
- Streaming: Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, NVIDIA Shield, Roku
- Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Android TV, Hisense, LG, Samsung, Vizio
- Mobile: Android, iOS, Fire Tablets
- Gaming: PlayStation and Xbox
- Cable set-top boxes: Cox, Xfinity
How many screens can you watch Peacock on?
You can stream Peacock on up to 3 devices at the same time.
Does Peacock have offline viewing?
Peacock lets you download select titles to watch offline in the mobile app, but you’ll need the Premium Plus plan to do so.
How is Peacock customer support?
Peacock’s support site has a detailed Help Center with answers to most general questions. If you can’t resolve your issue using the articles in the knowledge base, you can contact Peacock’s support staff directly through online chat.
However, the website’s chat app first makes you talk to a chatbot for a few minutes, forcing you to click through a bunch of options until you eventually get connected to a human. And when you’re trying to solve a problem, it can be rather frustrating.
Peacock does not offer telephone support.
How to cancel your Peacock subscription
People who subscribe to Peacock directly can cancel their Peacock subscriptions by logging into the Peacock website. The Plans & Payments section of the My Account screen has an option for canceling the current plan.
If you subscribe through an app on iOS, Android, Roku or Fire TV, then you will need to cancel your subscription through that app store.
Does Peacock have a refund policy?
You won’t get a refund when you cancel your Peacock subscription. Your access will continue until the end of the current billing period.
Final thoughts on Peacock’s streaming service
Choosing a streaming service used to be simple – as it was basically either Netflix or Hulu – but the proliferation of streaming services has made the decision much more difficult. And Peacock’s good enough to make the choice even harder.
The NBCUniversal catalog contains so many popular shows and movies that it’s hard to ignore what Peacock offers. Combine that catalog with low-cost subscription plans and you have a very compelling choice for a family streamer. However, all of those $5-$10 streaming services can quickly add up.
Looked at in isolation, Peacock is a great streaming service. But you really need to want the content Peacock offers to make a full commitment. You might be better off placing Peacock in rotation with services like Disney+ and Paramount+. Watch the new content, cancel the subscription and then resubscribe when there’s enough new content to watch again.