While it’s marketing and some of the comments I see on various forums might indicate it, Peacock, the new app from NBC Universal and Comcast has a lot of free content, but the app is not a totally free service. Yes there are many series available to stream for free. There is also a cool new live TV feature along the lines of Xumo built in to the service that is totally free with clops from a bunch of NBC properties along with other content. But NBC is not just giving away the store.
First of all there are in fact two paid tiers to Peacock and one free one. And there appears to be a great level of confusion as to how they work. Here is what you will find. If you wish to check out Peacock you will first be asked to create an account. Creating an account is free. It requires providing an email address and creating a password. Once you do so you will be able to stream thousands of hours worth of content supported by occasional advertisements.
How can you tell what you can watch with a free membership?
The content that is totally hidden behind a pay wall is noted with a purple flag. This includes all of the companies original shows like “A brave New World”. There are far too many shows to list but there are a number of original shows out and on the way along with many archival shows that are only accessible via a paid membership. On top of that Peacock kind of pulls a fast one on us. There are shows that are not listed as paid access shows like Cheers. The series does not have the purple Flag tell that others do. This is because the first season of Cheers is available to non subscribers. But if you wish to watch any other seasons you must pay. There are other series in the same boat and we have not dived in to see each and every one. But you should understand that going in. Aside from the TV show options there are lots of movies available through Peacock’s free tier. This includes the classic ET. As well, the free TV grid with NBC based content channels is also totally free.
Peacock has content that is only available to paid users. It calls this Peacock Premium. There are two tiers to Peacock Premium. Learn the differences here.
For $4.99 or really $5.00 users will be able to unlock the full Peacock service with advertisements. This includes all of the content the service offers like the original series, full access to every past show and all of the movies. But like Hulu, this paid tier has advertisements. Not nearly as many as a traditional TV show on a broadcast or cable network, but enough to pay for the service to exist. But once unlocked users will be able to access everything on the service. The ad load is identical to the free version. The increase of programming is not un substantial. At the moment it nearly doubles viewable content. As Peacock grows it is likely going to be a more and more valuable membership.
The $10.00 tier
For $9.99 users can access all of Peacocks selections commercial free aside from the Channels section. This makes the service more like traditional premium streamers like Netflix or Amazon. It is not dissimilar to what Hulu does. Hulu offers a pay version of its service with commercials and a more expensive upgrade without them. Users who pay about $10.00 will be able to watch all of the original content, all of the movies on the service and off the seasons of every show available ad-free.
There is plenty to see on Peacock though the truth is that until a number of agreements run out there is not a lot of truly exclusive material available. Much of the free content is also available via the NBC app available on a number of platforms as well. If users have a login for a TV provider they will be able to view a majority of the content available via Peacock already. But for cord cutters the Peacock app gives them a chance to use a more Comcast centric version of Hulu with content from across Comcasts brands like USA Network, SyFy, NBC and more.
One of the things leading the charge towards services like Peacock is the ability to make money off of content that is no longer being produced. The traditional way this has been done over the years was syndication which has been the model for decades. Production companies still syndicate their programming but with the number of people turning to streaming as a more convenient way to check out what they want to see syndication has lost its luster. By providing a way to give people the content they want to watch all at once with ads companies like Comcast can real in the money they lose out on from people who want to see their old favorites without waiting for them to air. Another big get for Comcast is the email addresses it picks up. Remember information is basically a currency in todays world. With a large email list Comcast can advertise everything from upcoming series to vacation packages to Universal Studios or movies coming to the big screen.
Overall the launch of the service is a big win for Comcast becuase the vast majority of its content is already owned. Its almost like a network yard sale.