Bottom line: Though it's missing some of the early original content it promised due to COVID-19, Peacock TV is still worth taking for a test drive. Best of all, you can do it for free!
- Free tier available to all
- Fresh interface
- A broad selection of content
- Includes live TV channels
- Sometimes confusing interface
- Original content lacking due to pandemic
- No Roku and Amazon Fire TV apps at launch
Peacock TV is the last of the high-profile streaming video services to debut, following the past year's arrivals of Apple TV+, Disney+, and HBO Max. The service isn't a case of saving the best for last. And yet, it's still worth your attention both for its impressive day one original content and already packed library of past hits. Perhaps better still, NBCUniversal is offering subscribers a freebie plan unlike the other recently launched services so you can always sample its latest content across your multiple devices.
An interesting bird indeed
What is Peacock TV?
After years of ditching expensive satellite and cable subscriptions, many of us now realize pivoting to streaming video services don't necessarily make things cheaper. Perhaps recognizing the impending streaming fatigue, NBCUniversal has wisely decided to offer its new streaming service at three price points, starting with a free plan.
At launch, the freebie option gives you over 13,000 hours of content that's interrupted by up to five minutes of commercials per hour. The free library includes a selection of current NBC TV shows, such as This is Us and Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, and full seasons of past favorites such as Parks & Recreation, Suits, and Friday Night Lights. Initial film content includes The Matrix and Jurassic Park franchises, and older fare like The Birds and Do the Right Thing.
Peacock TV also offers "channels" that give off the feel of traditional television viewing. When originally envisioned, Peacock TV was supposed to launch alongside the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. No doubt, these channels would have been dominated in the early days by various sporting events from Tokyo, Japan. The coronavirus had other plans. Instead, you'll find NBC News Now, Today All Day, Sky News, round the clock channels for NBC's late-night stars, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Myers, and many others.
Beyond this, Peacock TV also includes content outside the world of NBCUniversal. At launch, Lionsgate, A&E Networks, and ViacomCBS have all provided popular TV titles to the upstart, including Two and a Half Men, George Lopez, The Affair,, and others.
The free plan also includes limited sports coverage, on-demand sports replays, and select Originals, which you'll learn more about below.
Both Peacock Premium ($4.99 per month) and Peacock Premium (Ad-Free) ($9.99) come with 20,000 hours of content. As the latter's name suggests, the only difference between the two is whether you'll have to watch ads. Strangely, due to streaming rights, some content on the ad-free plan still comes with commercials.
The paid plans unlock full seasons of popular series, such as Yellowstone, Law & Order: SVU,* and Ray Donovan, and films like Ted, * ET,* and The Purge, and the Fast and the Furious movies.
You'll also find more sports programming with the paid plans, including coverage of Premier League matches and the upcoming Tour De France competition. In August, Peacock TV will begin airing WWE content as well.
Then there's the Peacock TV original content. At launch, the most significant new series is the adult-only eight-episode Brave New World that's based on Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel by the same name. The series offers an impressive cast that includes Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones), Demi Moore, among many others.
At launch, there's also the animated Cleopatra in Space, docuseries Lost Speedways, and the original film, Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, that's a continuation of the USA Network series.
You'll also find BBC's The Capture, and Sky One's Intelligence starring David Schwimmer (Friends).
Like HBO Max, the service's initial list of new programming has been significantly truncated by the coronavirus. In time, the service will offer new versions of Punky Brewster, Saved by the Bell, and Battlestar Galactica, plus lots of other content.
About the prices and how to get Peacock TV
Since earlier in the year, certain Xfinity and Cox internet subscribers have received Peacock TV for free. Through October 15, Android and Android TV users can also get the service for free. For everyone else, the Premium (Ad-free) version is free for seven days.
Peacock TV is available on Apple, Google, Chromecast, Xbox, and Sony PlayStation 4 devices, and also Vizio and LG Smart TVs. Like with HBO Max, Roku and Amazon Fire TV users don't have access to Peacock TV, at least for now.
As part of a distribution deal with Apple, Peacock TV content is listed in the Apple TV app, and you can subscribe to either of the paid subscriptions in-app.
Peacock TV: What I like
No doubt, the best part about Peacock TV is that NBCUniversal decided to launch it with a free tier. This move, not duplicated since Hulu ditched its free plan a few years ago, could prove significant in the months to come. With many productions still shut down because of COVID-19, millions of TV watchers will probably need a free place to find library content as the colder months arrive.
One of the things I look for first with new streaming video services is original content. While some have reacted negatively to Brave New World, I have found the series both exciting and well produced. If NBCUniversal brings the same type of commitment to future original series, Peacock TV should have no problem building a substantial audience. I also like that Peacock TV doesn't rely solely on NBC content. I didn't want "NBC+," and so far, NBCUniversal has delivered.
Peacock TV: What I don't like
Peacock TV's channel system is exciting and fresh. Still, it feels more gimmicky than practical and could confuse viewers who are now used to an on-demand format. Is there a need for the Today Show or The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, 24-7? I don't think so, but perhaps I'll be proven wrong.
My only other beef with Peacock TV early on is how it's limiting original content to "select episodes" on the free plan. No doubt, NBCUniversal deserves to recoup the high costs associated with producing series like Brave New World. And yet, shouldn't the free tier's commercials cover this?
Is it worth it?
Seven days is more than enough time to decide whether it's worth having Peacock TV without the limits associated with a free account. If you like what you see, skip the commercials, and get the ad-free package. That's what I'll be doing based almost exclusively on my positive reaction to two shows, Brave New World, and The Capture.
Worth your consideration
Even without the planned Olympics coverage and more extensive original content library that were both wiped out by the pandemic, Peacock TV offers a broad lineup of content at launch. Because of the free seven-day trial (and free tier), nothing is stopping you from taking a look at the service. You'll be happy you did.
Yes, another streaming service
It's time to sample for free.
Peacock TV is here and ready for its close-up. Where it goes from here could prove interesting in the coming months.
Have any questions?
If you have any questions or concerns about Peacock TV, leave a comment below.
Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.
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