Officially launched in July 2020, Comcast and NBCUniversal’s big entry into the Streaming Wars, Peacock, has endured a tougher launch than most.
As of Comcast’s fourth-quarter 2021 earnings report, Peacock had gathered just 24.5 million active users, with only 9 million paying for the service. Around a third of the the folks using Peacock regularly turn to the ad-supported free version with limited content. Around 7 million users get premium versions of the service via their Comcast or Sky pay TV service.
In the context of the Streaming Wars, where Netflix has set the bar for success at around 220 million global subscribers, that won’t get it done.
But Comcast said that it's committing more resources to programming -- the conglomerate will double its Peacock content budget to $3 billion in 2022, and will increase again to $5 billion “in the next couple of years.”
By that time, of course, Netflix and Disney will be spending close to $30 billion a year to produce movies and TV shows.
Apparently still not interested in M&A to solve their problems of scale, Comcast and NBCU will battle on with Peacock, partnering with entities like ViacomCBS to expand into regions like Europe with joint venture SkyShowtime.
And lately, there have been a few signs of momentum — for example, former Hulu marketing whiz Kelly Campbell joined Peacock as president in October 2021.
NBC, meanwhile, is finalizing a deal with its Disney, controlling partner on joint venture Hulu, to pull back popular NBCU shows on Hulu, such as The Voice, Saturday Night Live and American Auto, and stream them on Peacock instead.
And Peacock ranked No. 2 in signups among all Streaming Wars contenders in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to research firm Kantar.
How Do You Get Peacock?
Peacock is a popular app that can be found in the app stores of most major connected TV and mobile platforms.
Peacock’s launch was hindered early on by distribution problems related to Amazon and its Amazon Fire TV streaming platform, but that impasse was solved late in 2020.
Now, you can download and watch Peacock on all major connected TV platforms, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google TV/Android TV; video game platforms including current and legacy iterations of PlayStation and Xbox; proprietary smart TV operating systems from Samsung, LG and Vizio; and, of course, Apple iOS and Google Android gadgets, as well as popular web browsers including Chrome and Safari.
Peacock Premium is also provided free of charge to all of Comcast Xfinity TV and Internet users. And in addition to being natively embedded into Comcast's Xfinity X1 and Flex cable TV operating systems, Peacock is also native to Cox's white-label iteration of X1, Contour.
How Much Does Peacock Cost?
A large chunk of Peacock’s active users choose the free, entirely ad-supported iteration, but the $4.99 “Premium” tier, with limited ads and the full compliment of Peacock programming, is popular, too.
Peacock Premium includes an additional 60,000 hours of programming, including access to NBCU’s coverage of the Olympics, Super Bowl, WWE and Premier League Soccer.
Peacock Premium also lets users watch NBC shows the day after they run on the NBC Television Network.
There’s a third tier, the $9.99 Peacock Premium Plus, that includes access to all Peacock content with no ads whatsoever. Peacock Premium Plus also lets users download select content for offline viewing.
Be on the alert for Peacock promotions. In December 2021, for example, Google kicked off a promotion whereby anyone who activated a new device powered by Google TV/Android TV receives Peacock Premium free for six months. The signup window for that was short, but other opportunities pop up frequently.
What Shows Can You Watch on Peacock?
The free version of Peacock lets users watch around 40,000 hours of movies and shows with ads. This free Peacock access includes the first five seasons of classic comedy The Office, a tentpole property for Peacock.
Single episodes of original shows made just for Peacock, such as Will Smith’s reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, aptly titled Bel-Air, are also available to tease prospective users in.
But the real goodies — the Beijing Olympics and the Rams Super Bowl victory in February, ViacomCBS original series hit Yellowstone, as well as Peacock exclusives like full access to Bel-Air and Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure, just to name a few — are only found in the premium versions.
There are big movie events on Peacock, too. NBCU recently streamlined the release window for Universal Filmed Entertainment Group theatrical releases, bringing them onto Peacock streaming as few as 45 days after their release.
The 2022 Universal Pictures film slate includes Jurassic World: Dominion, a new original film from Jordan Peele, DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, and Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru. ■
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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