Comcast's NBCUniversal is on the cusp of kicking off Peacock, its competitor to Netflix and Disney Plus. But in the coronavirus era, a few things have changed. Crucial details like prices and launch dates remain the same (and, yes, they're still complicated). But Peacock's slate of original programming is largely shut down, and its plan to piggyback Peacock's July national launch on the summer Olympics is moot now that the games have been postponed.
Most of this article reflects details learned at a star-studded presentation at NBC's storied 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York in January. It will be updated progressively as we integrate new details learned Tuesday about Wednesday's launch.
Peacock is Comcast and NBC's entry in the streaming wars, a seven-month window when media giants and tech titans are releasing a raft of new services to take on Netflix. The battles will not only determine who shapes the future of television as streaming becomes the norm, they'll also influence how many services you'll have to pay for to watch your favorite shows.
In the case of companies like NBC, it means that even traditional TV networks and cable companies like Comcast are betting they can't turn the tide of cord-cutting.
With more than 150 million members, Netflix dominates streaming subscriptions. But Peacock will also face new services from Disney with Disney Plus, Apple with Apple TV Plus and soon HBO owner WarnerMedia with HBO Max (in May) — not to mention the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and CBS All Access, among other established options. (Note: ViacomCBS is the parent company of CNET.)
So is Peacock worth paying for? All the details on Peacock are below, but basically: If Netflix has spoiled you and you just can't handle ads, you may find yourself considering yet another subscription.
When will Peacock launch?
NBCUniversal plans to launch the Peacock streaming service April 15 for Comcast's Xfinity X1 cable customers and its Flex streaming customers. Then it'll launch for everyone else in the US on July 15.
International expansion will come, NBC said, but it didn't specify a timeline.
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.
How much will Peacock cost?
Peacock has three tiers: one that's free, one that's $5 a month and one that's $10 a month.
The free tier limits how much you can watch. For example, instead of getting all the Peacock originals, you get only select episodes.
Both paid tiers are what's called Peacock Premium, basically an all-access pass to everything on the service. Peacock Premium is $5 with advertising, or you can upgrade to an ad-free version for $10.
If you're a Comcast or Cox customer, you can get Peacock Premium at a $5 discount. You watch with an ad-supported Premium membership free, or pay $5 for the ad-free version. NBC said it's working on more 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 without. 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.
What's up with that name?
Peacock is a nod to NBC's longtime logo and mascot.
At the service's unveiling, 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 hand over NBC's minority share in Hulu, making Disney the full owner of the service. 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.
Shows and movies: What will I be able to watch on Peacock?
The company has said Peacock will have more than 15,000 hours of content available; about half of it will be available on the free, ad-supported tier.
Generally, the free library includes:
- 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 offers 15,000 hours of video, and you get:
- 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 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. It'll have select American and European golf tournaments.
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 are titles NBC has confirmed will be included with Peacock.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Punky Brewster reboot, starring Soleil Moon Frye as a grownup version of the titular character.
- 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.
- 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