Peacock has launched — sort of. A streaming competitor to Netflix and Disney Plus, the service from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal kicked off April 15 as a "sneak peek" for Comcast cable customers. But its nationwide launch won't come until July 15 and, so far, the service has confirmed support just for Apple's streaming devices and Xbox One.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, several plans for Peacock's wider rollout have been upended. The slate of original programming is largely shut down, and the plan to piggyback Peacock's national launch on NBC's live coverage of the summer Olympics is moot now that the games have been pushed back to 2021.
So when Peacock does launch in July across the US, it won't be precisely what NBC envisioned.
Peacock is NBCUniversal's entry in the streaming wars, a seven-month window in which media and tech giants are unleashing a wave of new services to take on Netflix. With more than 167 million members, Netflix dominates streaming subscriptions. Peacock also faces new services like Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus, and WarnerMedia's HBO Max next month — not to mention Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and CBS All Access, among other established options. (Note: ViacomCBS is the parent company of CNET.) These battles will not only determine who shapes the future of television as streaming becomes the norm, they'll also influence how many services you pay for to watch your favorite shows and movies.
During the pandemic — when people are staying home and isolated from friends, family and many forms of entertainment — Peacock is sticking with its limited launch right when people are most fired up about streaming. That's even as the virus and its respiratory disease COVID-19 have shut down television production globally, including the majority of Peacock's originals.
Peacock will still have a big vault of existing shows and movies to stream there, including The Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and Law & Order, not to mention tons of movies from its Universal and Dreamworks Animation studios. But it will have only a "handful" of originals available when it finally launches everywhere in the US in July. The sci-fi drama Brave New World is essentially done, the company said, and its Psych 2 movie is in good shape. Peacock is optimistic that its Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell reboots will be available this year.
But much of its exclusive, new programming won't materialize until far later than planned. Not until 2021 will Peacock "arguably really be hitting its stride," according to Matt Strauss, the executive in charge of Peacock.
Still, when it launches this summer, Peacock will have a built-in free tier. This free version of the service includes ads and will wall off roughly half of Peacock's programming. But with fewer original exclusives to put behind its paywall, free users will be missing out on less.
So is Peacock worth paying for? All the details on Peacock are below, but basically: If you love NBC's style of programming or you want even more big-name movies to stream — and especially if Netflix has spoiled you into hating ads — you may find yourself paying for yet another streaming service.
When will Peacock launch?
NBCUniversal launched a "preview" of Peacock's streaming service April 15 for Comcast's Xfinity X1 cable customers and its Flex streaming customers. Peacock will launch for everyone else in the US on July 15. The company is evaluating whether it can accelerate its national launch given demand for streaming video has surged as people are stuck in their homes because of the coronavirus.
International expansion will come, NBC said, but it didn't specify a timeline.
Peacock's launch came at a busy time for streaming services. April also brought the debut of Quibi, a mobile streaming service from Hollywood giant Jeffrey Katzenberg, which is focusing on bite-size films. In May, HBO Max will launch in the US.
What devices can I watch it on?
For now the "sneak peek" version of Peacock is only available to stream through Comcast's own platforms. That means Xfinity X1 cable customers and Flex streaming customers can watch Peacock on TVs through their X1 box or Flex streaming box.
For the nationwide launch in July, so far Peacock has confirmed support on:
- Apple devices: You'll be able to stream the service on apps for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD. You'll be able to sign up for Peacock or upgrade your membership with in-app purchases too. And Apple will also integrate Peacock into its own TV app, which allows you to congregate certain streaming channels together to watch them in one place.
- Xbox One consoles: Microsoft's Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X, will have an app for Peacock, and the service itself will be available for download through the Microsoft Store. You can also sign up for or upgrade Peach directly within the Peacock app on Xbox devices using in-app purchase.
How much will Peacock cost?
Ultimately, Peacock will have three tiers: a limited one that's free, an all-inclusive one that's $5 a month with ads and an all-inclusive one that's $10 a month without ads.
For now, during the "preview" launch of Peacock for Comcast customers only, that limited free tier doesn't really exist, but it is still expected to be part of Peacock's nationwide launch now planned for July 15. More details on that free tier are below.
The ad-supported, all-inclusive version of the service is free for Comcast X1 and Flex customers as a perk of doing business with Comcast already. These customers can also upgrade to watch Peacock ad-free by paying $5 a month. If they want to upgrade to ad-free, X1 and Flex customers can do so on www.peacocktv.com.
For everyone else when Peacock launches nationally, the free tier limits how much you can watch. For example, Peacock originally planned to offer only select episodes of its originals free, withholding the rest inside its paywall. This limited free tier was planned to have more than 7,500 hours of movies, current season TV, TV classics, curated daily news, sports, Hispanic programming and Peacock streaming channels.
Both paid tiers are what's called Peacock Premium, basically an all-access pass to everything on the service. That means more than 15,000 hours of content, about double the amount on the free tier. Peacock Premium is $5 with advertising, or you can upgrade to an ad-free version for $10.
After the national launch, Peacock will continue to give Comcast X1 and Flex subscribers the Premium version of the service at a $5 discount. So if they want to watch with advertising, they pay nothing additional; if they want to watch ad-free, they need to pay $5 a month. NBC has said it's working on partnerships to offer this discount to a wider array of consumers.
Right now the pricing at Peacock's competition runs the gamut.
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Among the services that have ad-supported options, Hulu is $6 a month with ads and $12 a month ad-free. CBS All Access charges $6 for its tier with advertising and $10 for the ad-free version. And Quibi, a mobile-only subscription video service with an eye-popping lineup of stars, has set its monthly rate at $5 with ads and $8 ad-free.
By comparison, Netflix, which has no ads, offers its cheapest tier at $9 a month, while its most popular plan is $13. Apple TV Plus is $5 a month, Disney Plus is $7 a month, and HBO Max will be $15 a month when it launches in May. None of them include advertising.
What's up with that name?
Peacock is a nod to NBC's longtime logo and mascot.
At the service's unveiling in January, writer, producer and actress Tina Fey said she originally wanted the title of 30 Rock to be The Peacock. "I was told it was a hard no, and that it would not pass the censors," she said. "And here we are."
What happens to NBC programming on Hulu?
For now, NBC's shows streaming on Hulu aren't going anywhere.
NBC was a partner in Hulu for years. But last year, NBC and Comcast struck a deal with Disney to give Disney full control. That deal included terms that essentially allow NBC to have programming both on Hulu and on Peacock at the same time.
However, in about two years, NBC has the right (but not the obligation) to pull all its programming off Hulu if it chooses.
But "it's too early to tell" whether NBC will want to go that route yet, NBCUniversal Chairman Steve Burke said at the presentation unveiling Peacock in January.
Shows and movies: What will I be able to watch on Peacock?
The company has said Peacock Premium will have more than 15,000 hours of content available; about half of it will be available on the free, ad-supported tier.
The plans described below were formulated before the coronavirus upended the status quo around the country. Not only are people across the nation confined to their homes and streaming more, television productions globally have shut down. And the Olympics, which NBC broadcasts in the US, were planned to be a big hook for Peacock's nationwide launch in July; now, the games are postponed until 2021.
Even Peacock itself isn't entirely certain what the service will have to watch when it launches nationally. "Like you, we're all really unclear on exactly when certain things are going to go back to normal," Matt Strauss, the head of Peacock and chairman of NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, said Tuesday in a briefing.
We do know that in the "sneak peek" version live now for Comcast customers, Peacock only has a few original shows available, and they're all kids titles. By the time Peacock's national launch arrives, it will have a "handful" of originals but production of most of its slate has been shut down. For the national launch, the sci-fi drama Brave New World is "essentially done" the service's Psych 2 movie is in good shape, and the company is optimistic its Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell reboots will be available this year.
But as you can read below, Peacock had planned a much more robust lineup of original programming before the pandemic.
Another important note about available shows, unrelated to the coronavirus: Peacock also doesn't have The Office to stream until next year. Netflix has the rights to it until 2021.
As originally planned, Peacock said its free library will include:
- Next-day access to current seasons of NBC broadcast shows in their first season (known as freshmen series).
- Select episodes of marquee Peacock originals (but not full seasons).
- Curated genre channels, which NBC has characterized as things like SNL Vault, Family Movie Night and Olympic Profiles.
- Complete classic series and popular movies.
- Curated daily news and sports programming, including the Olympics.
- Spanish-language content.
With the Premium membership, you basically get an all-access pass. It includes everything on the free tier plus:
- Full seasons of Peacock originals.
- Next-day access to current seasons of returning NBC broadcast shows.
- Early access to NBC's late-night talk shows. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will stream early on Peacock at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 9 p.m. ET.
- Additional sports, like Premier League soccer.
For its originals, the company is leaning toward new series from talent who have a long track record at NBC, like Tiny Fey, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. It's also betting on reboots of shows with an enduring appeal. It's already announced a revival of Battlestar Galactica (itself a reboot of the 1970s sci-fi series) by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and reboots of Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell. According to Deadline, NBCUniversal hopes to make a reboot of The Office, which itself was a remake of a British series.
Peacock will also include live programming, which originally was to include the now postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
As far as news programming, Peacock will draw from brands like NBC News, Sky News, MSNBC and CNBC. It'll stream same-day broadcasts of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd; live news channels will include NBC News Now, Sky News and NBC/Sky Global News (a new channel); it'll feature clips from Today, CNBC, MSNBC, E! News, NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press; and it'll widen into original content from the Meet the Press franchise, investigative documentaries including full seasons of Dateline and Lock Up, and library documentaries from NBC News and CNBC.
The following is the original, planned slate that NBC had arranged for Peacock, but the timing of most of these projects actually becoming available is now unclear.
- Dr. Death, based on the true-crime podcast, starring Jamie Dornan, Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater.
- A revival of Battlestar Galactica (itself a reboot of the 1970s sci-fi series) by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail.
- Brave New World, based on the dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley and starring Demi Moore and Alden Ehrenreich from Solo: A Star Wars Story. This is expected to be available in 2020.
- Angelyne, a limited series from Emmy Rossum about a surgically enhanced LA pop-culture icon.
- One of Us Is Lying, based on the best-selling young adult mystery-thriller.
- An anthology series that'll base its first installment on Hatching Twitter, Nick Bilton's best-selling book about the creation of that social network.
- The Capture, a conspiracy thriller touching on surveillance and misinformation, which ran on the BBC in the UK.
- Armas De Mujer, starring Kate del Castillo, a dramedy from the team behind Telemundo's La Reina del Sur.
- A Queer as Folk reboot.
- A kids-version of The Tonight Show.
- Rutherford Falls, starring Ed Helms, who also co-created the show with Mike Schur (the showrunner for The Good Place and co-creator of Parks and Recreation) and Sierra Teller Ornelas, who's produced ABC's Splitting Up Together and NBC's Superstore.
- Straight Talk, from Rashida Jones, about two main characters with opposing ideologies forced into an odd coupling.
- A Saved by the Bell reboot, with original cast members including Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez, from 30 Rock's Tracey Wigfield. This is expected to be available in 2020.
- The Punky Brewster reboot, starring Soleil Moon Frye as a grownup version of the titular character. This is expected to be available in 2020.
- A new season of A.P. Bio, starring Glenn Howerton and Patton Oswalt.
- Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, a second movie spinoff from the series Psych. This is expected to be available in 2020.
- The Adventure Zone, a fantasy animated comedy series based on the Dungeons & Dragons podcast and best-selling graphic novel series.
- Clean Slate, starring Laverne Cox as a trans woman who returns to Alabama and reunites with her estranged father after 17 years, produced by legendary producer Norman Lear.
- Expecting, produced by Mindy Kaling, about a single woman who asks her gay best friend to be her sperm donor.
- Division One, a coming-of-age comedy about an underdog women's collegiate soccer team, produced by Amy Poehler.
- MacGruber, based on the Saturday Night Live sketch character who spawned a movie in 2010. Will Forte stars in, writes and produces this comedy series.
- Girls5Eva, produced by Tina Fey about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the '90s that reunites for one more shot at stardom.
- Lady Parts, a comedy about a female Muslim punk band, which aired on Channel 4 in the UK.
- Intelligence, a comedy starring David Schwimmer about a maverick American intelligence agent and a hapless British computer analyst.
- Code 404, a cop comedy.
- Hitmen, a sitcom about inept contract killers, starring Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, best known as the former hosts of The Great British Bake Off.
- Five Bedrooms, about five people who buy a house together.
Original unscripted shows
- Who Wrote That, a Saturday Night Live docuseries from creator Lorne Michaels, exploring the famous personalities in front of and behind the camera.
- A stand-up special, comedy shorts and a new talk show from Kevin Hart and his LOL Network.
- A weekly late night show starring Amber Ruffin and executive produced by Seth Meyers.
- A spinoff of Bravo's The Real Housewives franchise.
- A racing series from Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Dream Team 2020, a behind-the-scenes documentary series that follows USA Basketball superstars on their Olympic journey to Tokyo, produced in partnership with the NBA.
- Hot Water: In Deep with Ryan Lochte, the Olympian from 2016's Rio games attempts to move beyond past scandals and make Team USA again.
- United States of Speed, which features the American runners leading Team USA to take on the domination of Jamaica's Usain Bolt.
- Run Through the Line, a look at the creation of Nike.
- The Greatest Race, which interviews swimmers on both sides of the epic 4×100 relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Next-day streaming access to new episodes
- America's Got Talent: Champions
- Bluff City Law
- Bring the Funny
- Chicago Fire
- Chicago Med
- Chicago P.D.
- Council of Dads
- Ellen's Game of Games
- Hollywood Game Night
- Law and Order: SVU
- Lincoln Rhyme
- Making It
- New Amsterdam
- Perfect Harmony
- The Blacklist
- The Inbetween
- The Kenan Show
- The Wall
- This Is Us
- Titan Games
- World of Dance
- Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
- Access Hollywood
- The Kelly Clarkson Show
- Days of Our Lives
TV back-catalog titles, coming in 2020 or 2021
- The Office (coming 2021)
- Parks and Recreation
- 30 Rock
- American Greed
- American Ninja Warrior
- Bad Girls Club
- Bates Motel
- Battlestar Galactica
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- Chicago Fire
- Chicago P.D.
- Chicago Med
- Chrisley Knows Best
- Crossing Jordan
- Covert Affairs
- Don't Be Tardy
- Downton Abbey
- Everybody Loves Raymond
- Face Off
- Flipping Out
- Friday Night Lights
- Hollywood Game Night
- Hollywood Medium
- Jeff Foxworthy Show
- Keeping Up With the Kardashians
- Killer Couples
- King of Queens
- Knight Rider
- Law and Order
- Law and Order: SVU
- Law and Order: Criminal Intent
- Leave It to Beaver
- Magnum P.I. (1980)
- Married to Medicine
- Married… With Children
- Miami Vice (1984)
- Million Dollar Listing
- Murder She Wrote
- New Amsterdam
- Paranormal Witness
- Royal Pains
- Saturday Night Live
- Saved by the Bell
- Southern Charm franchise
- Summer House
- The George Lopez Show
- The Mindy Project
- The Profit
- The Purge
- The Real Housewives franchise
- Two and a Half Men
- Top Chef
- Will & Grace
Universal Pictures is developing original films to debut on Peacock, and DreamWorks Animation (the studio behind Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon) will create original animated content for Peacock too.
Peacock's movie library will include past films from those studios, plus Focus Features, including:
- American Gangster
- American Pie
- American Psycho
- Back to the Future
- A Beautiful Mind
- Big Fat Liar
- The Big Lebowski
- The Blair Witch Project
- The Blues Brothers
- Boss Baby
- The Bourne franchise
- The Break-Up
- The Breakfast Club
- Brokeback Mountain
- Chicken Run
- Children of Men
- Cinderella Man
- The Croods
- Dallas Buyers Club
- Definitely Maybe
- The Despicable Me franchise
- Do the Right Thing
- Erin Brockovich
- E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
- Evan Almighty
- The Fast & Furious franchise
- Field of Dreams
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- Get Him to the Greek
- The Good Shepherd
- The Graduate
- Heat (1986)
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army
- How to Train Your Dragon
- It's Complicated
- Jurassic Park
- Jurassic Park III
- Jurassic Park: The Lost World
- Kicking & Screaming
- The Kids Are Alright
- King Kong
- Knocked Up
- Liar, Liar
- Little Fockers
- Little Rascals
- Love Happens
- Mamma Mia!
- Meet the Fockers
- Meet Joe Black
- Meet the Parents
- Moonrise Kingdom
- The Mummy
- The Mummy Returns
- Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
- Prince of Egypt
- The Road to El Dorado
- Scent of a Woman
- Schindler's List
- The Scorpion King
- Shark Tale
- Something New
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
- Tale of Despereaux
- Trolls World Tour
- What Dreams May Come You
- Me and Dupree
Kids library, coming in 2020 and 2021
- 3-2-1 Penguins
- Care Bears
- Cleopatra in Space
- Curious George library
- Father of the Pride
- Fievel's American Tail
- He-Man & Masters of the Universe
- Kody Kapow
- Madagascar: A Little Wild
- New Adventures of He-Man
- New Adventures of Zorro
- Postman Pat
- Punky Brewster (Animated)
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories
- The Chica Show
- The Mighty Ones
- Voltron Force
- Voltron Defender of the Universe
- Woody Woodpecker
Original kids programming
- Archibald's Next Big Thing, from Tony Hale of Veep and Arrested Development, this comedy features a chicken who 'yes-ands' his way through life.
- Dragon Rescue Riders, in which Dak, Leyla and their dragon friends find strange crystals that change their powers.
- DreamWorks Where's Waldo?, an animated series based on the iconic character.
- Curious George, an animated series that continues the adventures of beloved character George for a new generation of preschoolers.
Peacock will lean into Telemundo to reach Hispanic audiences with the streaming service, with more than 3,000 hours of Telemundo's programming. So far, the company has specified that this will include the original dramedy Armas de Mujer, a new series from the makers of La Reina del Sur, and popular library titles 100 Dias Para Volver, Betty in NY, El Barón and Preso No. 1.
- 100 Días para Enamorarnos
- Al Otro Lado Del Muro
- Betty En NY
- Chiquis N' Control
- Corazón Valiente
- ¿Dónde está Elisa?
- El Barón
- El Chema
- El Rostro De La Venganza
- Guerra de Ídolos
- Historias De La Virgen Morena
- José José
- La Querida Del Centauro
- Más Sabe El Diablo
- Mi Familia Perfecta
- Perro Amor
- Preso No. 1
- ¿Quién es Quién?
- Reina de Corazones
- Relaciones Peligrosas
- Santa Diabla
- The Riveras
- Un Poquito Tuyo
Peacock Virtual Channels
- Art House: Indie films
- Family Movie Night: Films for the whole family
- Get Spooked: Scary movies
- L&O DUN DUN: Law & Order all the time
- Latino Now by Telemundo: Películas y series en Español
- Laugh It Out: All comedy, all the time
- Nail Biters: Intense thrillers
- Olympics Docs: The stories behind the biggest Olympic athletes
- Olympics Profiles: Compelling stories about the athletes of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
- Out of This World: Sci-fi & fantasy that will blow your mind
- Peachicks: Keeping toddlers entertained and educated
- Peacock Kids: Shows for 6- to 11-year-olds
- Peacock Poker: Like a seat at a casino, 24/7
- Peacock Sports: Live, replays and highlights from your favorite sports
- Rotten Tomatoes: Fresh film and TV recommendations, hot trailers, breaking news and top moments
- SNL Vault: Every SNL season
- Tear Jerkers: Movies for when you want a good cry
- The Ones You Love: Classic TV and movies
- True Crime: Stories of real crimes involving real people