We’re waist deep in the streaming wars right now and NBC has entered the chat with its newest offering Peacock TV. Touted as a “free” platform from NBC, Peacock launched Wednesday morning with a full slew of features. For the people looking to get into the NBC streaming world, I gambled my ability to remember to cancel free trials for your benefit.
The lead-up to Peacock has been confusing, as they highly touted that you were going to get a lot on the app for free. The three tiers are:
Premium w/Ads ($4.99/mo or $49.99/yr)
Ad-Free* ($9.99/mo or $99.99/yr)
The latter two tiers are pretty much the exact same with the difference of the number of ads placed in TV shows and movies. Ad-Free* is not entirely ad-free, and I’ll dive into that in the sections below. The only benefit it appears to the Ad-Free* tier is you will eventually get to download episodes to watch on your phone/tablet, which is nice for travel. But, let’s get into the meat of what Peacock has to offer.
The first tab when you log into Peacock is Channels, which is a series of 30 or so VERY curated channels. If you are familiar with PlutoTV, then this will be quite similar. These “channels” are always playing, you can never fast-forward or rewind, and you can only look ahead in the schedule for what is coming on in the next hour. These channels include:
- Premier League Soccer (when there are active games) Premium Only (after Wednesday)
- Office Shorts (40 minute segments of The Office clips)
- Saturday Night Live (SNL Sketches)
- Keeping Up With The Kardashians (highlights from episodes)
- Fallon Tonight & Seth Meyers Now (each channel has full Late Night episodes)
- Unsolved Mysteries (Full episodes)
- Hell’s Kitchen (Full episodes)
- Bob Ross Channel (Joy of Painting episodes)
- Multiple NBC News Channels
- Today All Day
- plus various themed channels based on show genre (reality, competition, 80s, poker, etc.)
As someone who has used PlutoTV for a while for certain curated channels (game shows, Mystery Science Theater 3000), this isn’t a bad setup for Peacock. Things to note, if you are in the Free Tier commercials will be interspersed throughout these channels. If you are in the Premium W/Ads Tier, you will be spared the commercials on most of these channels. Even on the Premium Ad-Free* Tier some of the channels DO have ads. I ran a couple half hour spans on Today All Day and Office Shorts, and did get a brief ad on each. It did seem like the ads happened less frequently than the Free Tier. I could see a large group of people who use Peacock use the channel feature and leave it on for binge watching of different shows, such as the Unsolved Mysteries channel.
Peacock offers “Thousands of Hours of TV”, which appears to be the case. From the jump in the Free Tier, you get NBC greats like Parks & Rec, Cheers, 30 Rock, and Frasier. The biggest name The Office is missing, and won’t be on Peacock until 2021. You will, however, also get popular dramas of This Is Us, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, and more. The suite of USA shows are mostly there, with Psych, Monk, Suits, Covert Affairs, and Royal Pains included (White Collar and Burn Notice missing). Other shows come from the world of NBC Universal (SyFy, Bravo, E!, Telemundo). But, some of what you’re getting isn’t exactly what you think. Peacock says that there are only 12 seasons of Saturday Night Live, six of which appear to be full seasons, the other six have 1-2 episodes and they’re “Best Of…” compilations, and the “Best of Adam Sandler” is blocked behind the Premium Tier. Most of the shows that you get for free, you will mostly get the entire series. Shows like the suite of Chicago dramas (Med, PD, Fire) you get one season and it’s the most recent, so don’t plan on getting caught up straight away.
In the premium tier, you get all the same features but added shows that aren’t available for “free”. This list includes: Everybody Loves Raymond, House, Law & Order (only 8 seasons on Peacock), Ray Donovan, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, The King of Queens, and George Lopez. Like SNL, there are some shows like Yellowstone and SVU, where some seasons are free, while others are behind the premium paywall. It appears there is a lot to offer in TV under the free tier, but they might not be entire seasons. Premium also offers next-day access to most of NBC’s current season shows.
As far as ads are concerned. If you are in the Free Tier, you appear to get multiple ads over the course of each episode, much like watching InDemand on your cable provider. In the Premium w/Ads Tier, you’re still going to get ads, but with varying consistency. Some shows, like Murder, She Wrote, for some reason have no ads. Other hour long series have one ad break in the front 25-50% of the show. NBC shows like Chicago Med has multiple ad breaks, while America’s Got Talent just had one. It’s hard to tell which ones have multiple ad breaks, but most just have one. In the Premium Ad-Free* Tier, most shows had no ads at all, but the newest NBC shows had a 15-30 second bumper at the start, advertising Peacock programming. They’ve already got your $9.99/mo, might as well tell you what they’ve got?
How do I put this? Peacock’s movie selection is not… great. You do get the original Jurassic Park series, Bourne Trilogy, and the Matrix Trilogy. There’s Reservoir Dogs, Man on the Moon, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, American Psycho, The Sting, and 14 Hitchcock films (some free). Thanks to the Universal license you also get pretty much every Universal Monster movie you could ask for. There is also a decent selection of classic comedies, including Fletch, Brewster’s Millions, and Animal Crackers (and other Marx Brothers Movies). If you like trashy SyFy movies, you’re in for a treat, as most of them are here (minus 99% of the Sharknado franchise). Look, there are some gems in here, and I encourage you to look through and take a trip down memory lane, but WOW.
Behind the Premium Tiers, you will get access to movies such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Shrek, Ted, Identity Thief, Evan Almighty, Kicking & Screaming, Accepted, Lone Survivor, Charlie Wilson’s War, Children of Men, Fast & Furious, Honey 3, Larry Crowne, W., and about any Christmas Movie that has a dog in it (I’m not joking, many of those are behind premium).
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of movies on Peacock. They’re not all winners, but there are definitely some cult classics, along with a bunch of sequels to movies that AREN’T on Peacock. As far as ads go, on the Free Tier, you will get 5-6 ad breaks during a 2-hour movie (tested on The Bourne Identity). On the the Premium w/Ads Tier, you are subjected to three minutes of ads then an uninterrupted movie. In the Premium Ad-Free* Tier, you still get the 15-30 second ad bumper at the start, then an uninterrupted movie.
The main draw of the Sports function of Peacock is the ability to watch live Premier League games live. This morning, there were three Premier League games running at the same time, and they were all available on all three tiers of Peacock. After doing a little research, it appears that this is a today only thing. From NBCSports.com: “NBC Sports and Peacock will present more than 175 exclusive Premier League matches on Peacock Premium in the 2020-21 season.”
Other than the Premier League matches, there are a few Peacock Original shows under the sports tab. It appears there are also some news highlights, some segments in their Road To Tokyo series, and a few documentaries. The highlight of Sports will be Premier League, and what I would assume is the Olympic coverage, whenever we get to have the Olympics again. They will also have the Tour de France coverage in August & September.
What’s to come?
Now there is quite a lot of content that appears to be coming in the future to Peacock. Notable TV shows that did not appear on the service on day one include: The Office (will appear in 2021 after Netflix deal), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, most of the Chicago series, many of the Real Housewives series, Top Chef, and more. Classic shows to come include Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Bates Motel, Married With Children, Charmed, and more. There will also be reboots of shows like Saved By The Bell, Battlestar Galactica and Punky Brewster. Also some Late Night offerings will appear with Kids Late Night and a show featuring Late Night’s Amber Ruffin.
As far as movies go, it appears that a number of Dreamworks kids movies including Trolls World Tour, Croods 2, Boss Baby and Spirit will be available. Also coming are movies like: Mama, Beetlejuice, The Big Lebowski, Scent of a Woman, various Fast & The Furious Movies, E.T. and more. It will be interesting to see how they flesh out this section.
Will Peacock be right for you? With its free tier, you do actually get a lot of content, provided you don’t mind the ads. Plus, you do get to see everything that is blocked behind the Premium wall, so there is no hiding what you’d be missing. Take a look for yourself and see if Peacock is right for you. Now I’m off to go cancel these free trials before I get charged.