Is peacock streaming worth it?

by Caitlin Moriarty

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s latest streaming service, launched on April 15th of 2020. With so many competitors, how can another streaming platform stand out? Apparently, by being free.

Peacock has three different plans to serve a viewer’s needs. The free version is the main appeal of the platform, providing access to two-thirds (roughly 13,000 hours) of the streaming library in exchange for an email address. This free version is ad-supported, but the company ensures that there should be five minutes or less worth of ads per hour of streaming.

The available library includes NBC original shows a week after they air, as well as select seasons of Peacock original content and non-NBC owned shows. For example, only seasons one, two, and seventeen of Law & Order are available. Some of the movie titles originally used to promote the free tier, such as the Jurassic Park franchise and the Matrix films, have already been removed from the platform. Not all sports content is available at the free level.

Peacock Premium, priced at $4.99 per month, unlocks all 20,000 hours of Peacock content. Peacock Premium is free to Comcast X1, Flex, and Cox users. NBC shows are available the day after they air, and shows such as The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers will be available before they air on television (once they are filmed in-studio again). However, this level is still ad-supported.

Peacock Premium Plus is $9.99 per month ($4.99 per month to X1, Flex, and Cox users), and offers the same library as Peacock Premium without any ads… except for select movies, shows, and live channels that still support ads.

Typically, these permanent ads apply to non-NBCUniversal properties. Ad-free streaming plans from Hulu and CBS All-Access have similar exceptions. Peacock Premium Plus will soon support offline downloads on mobile devices. Typically, these permanent ads apply to non-NBCUniversal properties. Ad-free streaming plans from Hulu and CBS All-Access have similar exceptions. Peacock Premium Plus will soon support offline downloads on mobile devices.

One thing to consider are the lack of supported systems, such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku. A deal with Roku was delayed due to complications with the ad system. Amazon, meanwhile, is still deciding whether to feature Peacock as an individual service or as one of their supported “channels.”

A notable flaw of Peacock is their niche movie categories—very few “blockbuster” movies are available. The collections seem to highlight more specific audiences, such as fans of classic horror movies or the works of Alfred Hitchcock.

Strangely, even the shows and movies geared towards adults censor the subtitles, which may annoy some viewers. Another oversight is that ad-supported shows have no “commercial break,” and instead tend to interrupt TV shows mid-scene. But, these ad breaks are fairly scarce, if a little long, for now. Viewers seem to agree that Premium Plus is not worth an extra $4.99 a month as compared to the Premium tier—so long as ads continue to be unobtrusive. The Hulu streaming service made similar promises to limit ads, but audiences have noticed an annoying increase in ads since the platform’s debut. Skeptical reviewers suggest that Peacock could make the same mistake in an attempt to increase demand for the Premium Plus tier.

On the other hand, changing between the plans is relatively easy as compared to other platforms (looking at you, Hulu…), and the plans are quite reasonable with reduced pricing offers such as those for X1, Flex, and Cox users. NBCUniversal is seeking to use the Peacock platform for coverage of Olympics events, and in January they began advertising ownership of The Office. Peacock also has a fairly impressive selection of “classic” long-running TV shows, as compared to their lacking and somewhat peculiar selection of movies.

In summary, Peacock Free is a widely accessible and affordable choice for streaming. For those looking to stream a variety of TV shows or originals, the second tier is an option to consider—especially with reduced pricing. The top tier Premium Plus pricing, however, is not quite justified as the platform exists now.

As the platform gains properties and deals, it will be interesting to see whether the company will utilize the three-tiered system in a way that incentivizes customers to fork over their cash, while also preventing the criticism that other services have faced.

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