First Impressions of Peacock, the Newly Launched Streaming Service from NBCUniversal

(Image Credit: NBCUniversal)

Last Wednesday, July 15, NBCUniversal launched its own streaming service, Peacock, which offers over 200,000 hours of content. When the name was first announced, it was the subject of much ridicule. On top of that, avid subscribers of Netflix were unhappy that some of their favorite shows such as The Office (US) would be taken off of Netflix in January 2021 so that they could be exclusive to Peacock. In the age of streaming services, some consumers even feel that there are too many, with the launch of HBO Max on May 27 being fairly recent.

However, what makes Peacock different from rival streaming giants is that it includes a free tier with a large quantity of content. Amidst consumers, there may be confusion since Peacock has used the slogan "It's free as a bird" as the slogan, though they have also advertised that one can sign up for free and upgrade for more. In order to use Peacock, one does in fact need to sign up for an account. After that step, however, you are free to watch lots of content in the free tier. Some content is marked as premium. In order to view those, one can sign up for the $4.99 per month tier that includes ads, or even the $9.99 per month tier if they want to go ad-free. These are very affordable prices. Consumers should be aware, however, that the app is not available on Roku or Amazon Fire TV, a problem that is also prevalent for HBO Max.

(Image Credit: NBCUniversal)

Among the featured Peacock originals is Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, the second film to follow USA Network's detective-comedy series. Both films and the show's eight seasons are available for free. Whether one is a long-time Psych fan (or "PsychO") or simply someone who has never watched but has been somewhat curious about the show, this seems like an absolute win, in that regard. Speaking for myself, this was my main reason for checking out Peacock. While I have watched Psych 2 twice, I have not, as of yet, watched anything else on the streaming service, and I only have three other films on my watch-list, compared to other streaming services like Disney+, Netflix, and HBO Max, where I have at least a dozen films in my watch-list for each.

This is not to say that there is almost no content to check out on Peacock. It is just that I do not often rewatch content I've seen time and time again. I have watched much of Monk, and I may watch the entire show from start to finish at some point. It is not a pressing objective, but the option to watch every season for free is there. I have gone through Parks and Recreation multiple times (second-hand, in some instances), and I do not have a desire to watch all of it again anytime soon. However, if anyone wants to watch Parks and Recreation without subscribing to Netflix, all seven seasons are on Peacock for free. And as big of a fan of the Jurassic Park trilogy or The Matrix trilogy as other people may be, those movies are on Peacock for free if there are any die hard fans who wish to rewatch them over and over again.

While the first two episodes of Peacock original Brave New World are available for free, one would have to upgrade to premium to watch the other seven episodes. Speaking as someone who was not very impressed with the original novel, I have no interest in checking out this series. And to those who may end up being impressed with the first two episodes, it may be disappointing to them that they have to pay to see the rest. But again, $4.99 for just one month is a pretty good deal.

If you want to watch Shrek, you will have to upgrade to premium. (Only the first film is on Peacock at the moment.) If you want to watch classic long-running shows like Cheers or Frasier, only the first season of each are free, with the rest available on premium. Everybody Loves Raymond, on the other hand, is only on premium. And, oddly, the second season of Where's Waldo? is available for free, while the first season (which, unlike the second, aired on network TV before the move to Peacock) is a premium exclusive.

Ultimately, the answer to the question of whether Peacock is "worth it" will vary depending on the consumer. I do believe that it is worth signing up for the free tier so that one can poke around and see what they may find and enjoy. It is understandable that one may not wish to have the premium tier long-term, but one could always pick one month out of the year to be upgraded to premium and check out as much from that tier as they can within that month. Such a strategy might just take a bit of pre-planning.

Source: CNet [1] [2]