Peacock Plucks Its Free Tier From New Users

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NBCUniversal has confirmed that it will no longer provide free ad-supported access to Peacock for new users. 

New Peacock customers can pay $4.99 a month for Peacock Premium, which includes the streaming service's full on-demand library, live sports, and NBC and Bravo series the day after they run on their respective networks. They can also choose the $9.99-a-month Peacock Premium Plus tier, which tacks on a live stream of their local NBC station and doesn't force its users to watch commercials.

Existing users can still access around 10,000 hours of Peacock programming free with ads ... for now. 

The move comes with Peacock paid membership still small by Streaming Wars standards, but surging -- the service finished 2022 at 20 million paid users, nearly double the level it started the year with. 

Viewership is increasing, too, with event original series, including the recently dropped Poker Face, creating buzz, and and next-day drops of NBC broadcast shows, such as the reboot of Night Court, also getting traction. In December, Peacock showed up on Nielsen's monthly U.S. viewing market-share tracker, The Gauge, for the very first time. 

In a sense, NBCU's move is counter-intuitive, with media and technology companies rushing into the free ad-supported streaming (FAST) business of late. 

Updated: As tech writer Matthew Keys noted, Comcast is hardly out of the FAST business, having made its $100 million acquisition FAST Xumo the hub a rather broad-skewing global streaming strategy that now uses the Xumo brand name

And notably, NBCU said last week that it lost $978 million in the fourth quarter alone on its direct-to-consumer business, which is mostly Peacock at this point. Enticing more users to engage in the paid service might be a means of reversing that backward momentum. 

Daniel Frankel

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!