Review: Peacock Has a Lot to Offer While Awaiting Fresh Feathers

Peacock hatched on April 15, but didn’t make it to my Comcast-subscribing household until 10 days later.

When I found time to check it out last week, I was greeted by Jimmy Fallon playing a game with Ricky Gervais. I’d already seen that on The Tonight Show the previous day.

At this point, nearly all of the programming that’s on Peacock, the free-with-ads
NBCUniversal streaming service, has been seen before. The first show I watched all the way through was the pilot episode of Cheers. Ted Danson looks so young, but the episode holds up. I remembered nearly all the punchlines, but chuckled nonetheless.

Peacock features current NBC shows as well as classics such as 'Cheers.'

Peacock features current NBC shows as well as classics such as 'Cheers.'

As promised, there were only five commercials shown during the 25 minute running time, including spots for Verizon Communications, Capital One, Target and Eli Lilly’s nasal powder Baqsimi.

Some new plumage may arrive by July 15, when the streaming service becomes available to non-Comcast homes and the premium version launches. But production of many of the original shows NBCU is making for Peacock have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, Peacock as a platform has plenty to play with.

Ask for It by Name

When you activate it (just say “Peacock” into your remote control), programming appears. In my case, it was the Fallon bit that came on screen.

There are several different ways to navigate Peacock. A menu at the top of the screen offers Channels, Trending, Browse and Search.

Browsing offers content on demand. Featured shows were Parenthood and House. Scrolling down brings a series of categories including Peacock Picks (King of Queens, George Lopez), Comfort TV (Cheers, Making It), Coming Soon (upcoming originals, Brave New World,Angelyne and new episodes of AP Bio). The list of categories goes on and on: Rotten Tomatoes Approved Movies, Peacock at Home, Always On, Laugh Out Loud, True Crime, Feeling Competitive, Timeless Classics, Hidden Gems, Syfi and Fantasy, Hitchcock and Horror, Family Night, Kids Corner.

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the Peacock soft launch has outpaced expectations. 

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the Peacock soft launch has outpaced expectations. 

Users can also scroll through a bunch of linear channels, joining shows in progress. Channels include SNL Vault, Fallon Tonight, The Office, Seth Meyers Now, NBC News Now, Sky News, CNBC Ka-Ching, True Crime, Peacock Reality, ’80s Mix Tape, In It To Win It, Out of This World and Poker.

It’s very easy to get caught up watching SNL’s Laser Cat 7, Jim from The Office putting items from Dwight’s desk into the vending machine, or an old Late Night With Seth Meyers talking about an insane Trump press conference. It’s a little disorienting to hear this one was about about then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Pacing Ahead So Far

On Comcast’s earnings call last week, chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said that Peacock was pacing ahead of internal forecasts for monthly active users and in time spent viewing.

For Comcast subscribers, Peacock is free and it’s well worth the price. It might even convince some subscribers not to cut the cord and instead cut back on some of their over-the-top subscription services. Comcast has opened a new front in the streaming wars. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.