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The streaming wars have gotten more heated with the launch of Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, which launches on July 15. Peacock joins legacy streaming services like Netflix and Hulu along with newer entrants like HBO Max and Disney+ in a bid for your time. We’ve broken down everything you need to know about the service, including our verdict on whether or not you should subscribe.
How Does Peacock Work?
Peacock is unique among its competition because it’s launching with a free tier that includes access to a smaller library. This isn’t a promo either — you can subscribe to Peacock when it launches, and never have to pay a dime.
Peacock Premium, the paid version of this service costs $4.99 per month, or $49.99 per year, and gives you access to a larger library of shows and movies, plus original series, and daily news, sports, and pop culture updates. An ad-free Peacock Premium subscription costs $9.99 per month, or $99.99 per year, although NBC says some Peacock channels, events, TV shows, and movies need to have advertisements due to streaming rights.
You can sign up for a Peacock Premium subscription on NBCUniversal’s website, in the Peacock App on your iOS or Android device, or by downloading a digital channel on certain streaming hardware. Peacock will be available on day one on Apple TV, Vizio Smartcast TVs, LG Smart TVs, Chromecast, and AndroidTV devices. The service will not launch on Roku or Fire TV, but may come to those platforms after launch.
What Shows Are on Peacock?
Although Peacock is a new streaming service, it’s being launched by NBCUniversal, a media company that’s been in the TV business since 1933. If you subscribe to Peacock’s free tier, you’ll be able to watch TV shows like Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, The Office, Everybody Loves Raymond, Monk, Cheers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Battlestar Galactica, Downton Abbey, Chicago Fire, and more. NBCUniversal says free subscribers will have access to more than 7,500 hours of video content.
The company says Peacock Premium subscribers will have “even more to watch,” including staples like Saturday Night Live, The King of Queens, Late Night With Seth Myers, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, House, and Bite Club. Premium subscribers will also be able to watch episodes from current shows the day after they air, and more seasons of some TV shows.
Peacock Premium is also the only way to watch original TV series, like Brave New World (based on Aldous Huxley’s classic novel), and Intelligence, a new comedy series written by Nick Mohammed and co-starring David Schwimmer. Classic NBCUniversal shows Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell will also be returning as Peacock Originals. In total, NBCUniversal says Peacock Premium subscribers can stream more than 15,000 hours of content.
What Movies Are on Peacock?
TV shows are Peacock’s big draw, but subscribers can stream a lot of movies, too. NBCUniversal said Peacock will be home to upcoming films like Fast & Furious 9 and Jurrasic World 3 in addition to a back catalogue that contains Back to the Future, Jaws, Mamma Mia, E.T., Meet the Parents, Bridesmaids, Casino, Shrek, Shark Tale, and Brokeback Mountain.
What Sports Are on Peacock?
NBCUniversal struck up a deal to have exclusive streaming rights to Premier League soccer matches. The Premier League is an English soccer confederation made up of 20 clubs, and Peacock Premium subscribers will be able to stream more than 175 games from the 2020-2021 season. If you can’t watch your favorite team’s match live, you’ll have access to a full replay once the game is over. Still, if live sports is what you’re after, your best bet is still to sign up for something like fuboTV, which offers dozens of sporting channels with even its most basic subscription (get a 7-day free trial to fuboTV here).
How Often is New Content Added to Peacock?
Because NBCUniversal owns the rights to shows like The Office, they’re far less likely to disappear from this service, or reappear on a competitor’s. NBCUniversal always has the option to license their franchises out, but for now you should consider them Peacock exclusives.
Additional movies and TV shows may be added from both NBCUniversal’s libraries, or through deals made with other studios. For example, the company reached an agreement with ViacomCBS earlier this month to license out TV shows and movies like Everybody Hates Chris, Real Husbands of Hollywood, American Beauty, Fatal Attraction, The Godfather, and An Officer and a Gentleman, among others.
This shows NBCUniversal’s commitment to scoop up licensing rights to make Peacock an even better value. Keep in mind movies and TV shows from non-NBCUniversal companies are far more likely to cycle in and out over time.
Does Peacock Offer 4K Streaming?
The highest-resolution currently available on any streaming service is 4K (ultra high definition), which is twice as good as 1080P (full HD). High-dynamic range is a new video technology that makes colors and shadows look more accurate. Both 4K video streaming and HDR video streaming are restricted to those with a Peacock Premium subscription.
Keep this in mind: to stream in 4K HDR you need a TV that supports those features, an internet connection fast enough to stream video files that large, and the content you’re watching needs to be available in that resolution with HDR. If everything lines up, you’ll notice a substantial difference, but free Peacock subscribers may not be missing out on much.
The Bottom Line
The verdict is still out on whether Peacock’s exclusive series will pan out, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of its free tier. You get access to some of the most critically-acclaimed TV shows and movies of the past century, albeit with the caveat of having to watch ads, and video quality being capped at HD.
Subscribing to Peacock Premium takes a slightly larger leap of faith, but if you take advantage of NBCUniversal’s launch pricing (again, $49.99 annually for Peacock Premium, $79.99 annually for ad-free Peacock Premium) it’s cheaper than HBO Max, Hulu, or Netflix. If you’ve been lamenting Netflix’s loss of The Office, and are willing to give its original programming a chance, NBCUniversal’s Peacock Premium is worth subscribing to.