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Peacock Pushes Premium with 'Modern Family'

Modern Family Peacock Hulu
(Image credit: Disney)

Updated 3/9/21: This article was changed after new information was provided by NBCUniversal

Peacock looks serious about getting more of those 33 million “sign-ups” to pay up.

Since launching all 11 seasons and 250 episodes of Modern Family on Feb. 3, the Comcast/NBCUniversal-owned streaming service had been letting users of the ad-supported, free Peacock tier have access to the first 12 episodes of the first season.

You can still watch 12 free episodes of Modern Family for free on Peacock. But that selection is a bit more random, and dare we say, not as user-friendly to consume if you're not a paid subscriber. 

This week, Peacock changed which 12 episodes are gratis--you can't just simply binge halfway through season 1 and get hooked. They selected free installments are seemingly all over the place. And you have to know where to find the free episodes, too. 

Peacock users who haven't signed up for the $4.99-a-month "Premium" version, or the $9.99 "Premium Plus" iteration without commercials, are no longer able to watch season 1, episode 2 (aka "The Bicycle Thief") for free.  If they click on it--or season 1 episodes 3-12, for that matter--they're now sent to a landing page promoting premium sign-ups. 

Within the "seasons" portion of the menu, there's now an option for "free episodes," which gives non-paying users of the AVOD platform access to a select dozen installments placed throughout the 11-season run of the show. Editor's note: We couldn't find these free shows until Peacock reps told us where to look.

"In honor of Women’s History Month, we have made 12 episodes (including the pilot) free that celebrate the female leads of the series," said a Peacock rep, explaining the current selection strategy, which might seem entirely random without that explanation. 

Notably, Peacock also sent out an email to registered users, free and paid, Tuesday, urging them to, “Laugh more with the family and upgrade to stream all ten [sic] seasons" of Modern Family.

Indeed, seemingly long gone are those carefree days of, say, early January, when Peacock was merely trying to engage free and paid users alike with unfettered access to The Office

There seems to be a broader push towards paid premium going on with Peacock right now, and easy access to Modern Family is just part of the enticement. 

On Monday, Peacock announced that WWE programming would hit the platform on March 18, and it, too, would be exclusive to paid Peacock subscribers. 

For any company currently vested in the "streaming wars," you can make the case that more paying customers are needed.

NBCU just filed papers with the SEC, revealing $914 million in losses for Peacock. on about $118 million in revenue in 2020. 

And NBCU said in January that the platform had attracted 33 million “sign-ups,” but it’s unclear as to how many of those users are actually paying for the service. In early February, The Information, citing internal NBCU documents, reported that Peacock only has around 11.3 million regular users.

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!