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Peacock: What You Need to Know About This Week's Big Streaming Launch

How to watch? What's it cost? What shows are streaming? Here's what we know.
  • Park and Rec, Yellowstone, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and the Fast & Furious films are just a few of the catalog titles set to be available on Peacock at launch.
    Park and Rec, Yellowstone, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and the Fast & Furious films are just a few of the catalog titles set to be available on Peacock at launch.

    Another month, another major media conglomerate launches a new video streaming service. With television production at a virtual standstill, we may soon have more streaming platforms than new shows to watch on them. The latest comes from NBCUniversal with the very colorful name Peacock. Will it be a breakout success like Disney+, a confusing mess like HBO Max, or fall somewhere in between? Here's what we know ahead of the platform's official launch this Wednesday.

    What's It About and What's with the Bird-Brained Name?

    The service is named after the iconic NBC network logo. We've certainly seen worse this year. The name is fairly memorable without sounding like either total gibberish or generic corporate branding.

    Peacock is a streaming platform from NBCUniversal and parent company Comcast that houses a wealth of film and TV content from the Universal Studios and NBC libraries. Notable movies include the Bourne and Fast & Furious franchises, E.T., and Back to the Future. Among its TV holdings are the various Law and Order and Chicago series, Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, and cable sensation Yellowstone. Many of these will ultimately leave competing streamers and move to Peacock exclusively.

    Additionally, Peacock's Premium subscribers will be able to watch new episodes of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Myers as early as 8pm and 9pm ET, respectively, in advance of their regular airings on NBC.

    Sports and news content will be a major differentiator over competitors like Netflix or HBO Max. Peacock will carry Premiere League soccer starting in August, the Ryder Cup golf tournament in September, and coverage of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games – assuming that any of thse events actually happen as currently scheduled. NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press will stream the same day as their network broadcasts, while additional news selections will be curated from NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, and Sky News.

    Will Peacock Have Original Content?

    The past year has seen a flurry of announcements of new content being produced for the streamer, including reboots for Punky Brewster, Saved by the Bell, and Battlestar Galactica. Those are in various stages of development or production for future streaming.

    At launch, Peacock originals are set to include:

    Psych 2: Lassie Come Home – The comedic detective series (originally aired on the NBCUniversal-owned USA Network) gets a second reunion movie featuring original cast members James Roday, Dulé Hill, Maggie Lawson, and Timothy Omundson. Watch the trailer.

    Brave New World – The classic dystopian sci-fi novel by Aldous Huxley is adapted into series form starring Alden Ehrenreich, Jessica Brown Findlay, and Harry Lloyd. It looks a bit more promising than the 1980 TV movie, even if it sadly lacks the sweet leotards. Watch the trailer.

    Intelligence – David Schwimmer stars as a doofus NSA agent in this British workplace comedy set in the world of international espionage. Watch the trailer.

    The Capture – Another British import, a critic's blurb in the middle of the trailer for this surveillance state crime thriller calls it, "The thinking man's Bodyguard." Whether that quote is really praise for this show or just a stinging rebuke against last year's Netflix hit is up for interpretation. Watch the trailer.

    In Deep with Ryan Lochte – The Olympic swimmer looks back at his personal shame in this documentary produced by NBC Sports about the 2016 scandal that derailed his career. Watch the trailer.

    Lost Speedways with Dale Earnhardt Jr. – The famed NASCAR driver hosts a reality series that explores the sport's history. Watch the trailer.

    Children's programming will include relaunches of Curious George and Where's Waldo?, as well as a new series from DreamWorks Animation called Cleopatra in Space.

    How Much Does Peacock Cost?

    Coming on the heels of the very expensive HBO Max launch, Peacock swings in the opposite direction with a multi-tier pricing strategy that will offer the service's content for as little as… nothing!

    Peacock Free is, as the name says, free to everyone. However, content is limited to about 7,500 hours of movies and TV, and only select episodes of ithe platform's Peacock originals, all with commercials. Peacock Premium, meanwhile, has the whole catalog with over 15,000 hours of content. The Premium tier comes in two flavors: one with ads for a modest $4.99/month and one ad-free for $9.99/month.

    Can I Get a Deal on Peacock?

    If you sign up by July 14, 2020, you can get one year of Peacock Premium with ads for just $29.99 or without ads for $79.99. After that date, the annual packages will increase to $49.99 and $99.99, respectively.

    Comcast Xfinity customers with an X1 DVR or Flex streaming device automatically get Peacock Premium (with ads) free with their existing cable or internet packages. Likewise, Cox cable subscribers will get the same deal. An option to upgrade to ad-free for $4.99/month will be offered after launch.

    Additionally, Android and Android TV users who download the Peacock app can get a free trial of Peacock Premium with ads from July 15 through October 15.

    When Does Peacock Launch?

    Peacock has actually been in a soft launch status since April 15, allowing Comcast Xfinity customers the chance to try the service via X1 and Flex devices. During this time, only a limited content catalog has been available with no originals.

    Peacock officially launches to the general public on July 15, 2020, at which time the catalog should expand and the launch slate of original shows will premiere. The service has promised to offer 4K HDR video on select programs for Peacock Premiere subscribers (but not Peacock Free), which gives it an advantage over the more expensive HBO Max. However, Peacock will not offer Dolby Atmos surround sound, as Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+ do.

    In addition to the existing Comcast devices, Peacock is confirmed to be supported by Android, Android TV, Chromecast, Vizio SmartCast TVs, LG Smart TVs, Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K, etc.), Xbox One S, and Xbox One X. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing Peacock has not yet been able to lock down deals to appear on Roku or Amazon Fire TV, which dominate the streaming device market. Hopefully that gets resolved quickly. The lack of Roku and Amazon Fire TV support was a major failure of the HBO Max launch, and we're sure that nobody at Peacock wants to repeat that mistake.

    Josh Zyber has written about TV, movies, and home theater for the past two decades. Most recently, he spent more than nine years managing a daily blog at High-Def Digest.

    TOPICS: Peacock, NBC, Battlestar Galactica (Peacock series), Brave New World, The Capture, Curious George, Intelligence, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Law & Order, The Office (US), Parks and Recreation, Psych, Punky Brewster (2021 Series), Saturday Night Live, Saved by the Bell, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Where's Waldo?, Yellowstone