Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Comcast and its subsidiary NBCUniversal are moving ahead with the soft launch of Peacock, NBC’s streaming video on demand service. Launched on April 15, Comcast Xfinity gave early access to Peacock Premium to its customers. The new streaming service offers more than 15,000 hours of hit shows and movies including 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Yellowstone, Law & Order: SVU, Jurassic Park, Shrek, Curious George and other favorites.
Peacock Premium will also offer original programming, including a Saved by the Bell reboot, Angelyne and Brave New World as well as shows for kids and families, live sports, reality TV and Latino programming. Comcast Xfinity customers will get the service for free, a $4.99 per month value.
Though NBCUniversal had announced the service last year, few details were known until January 2020. At that time, the entertainment company announced that it would do a soft launch on April 15 to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, followed by a nationwide launch on July 15. The summer launch was originally set to coincide with the 2020 Summer Olympics, which have been postponed until the summer of 2021, compliments of COVID-19.
“The best of streaming meets the best of TV,” says Peacock. “We’re bringing the best in entertainment right to your home with thousands of hours of current and timeless TV shows, blockbuster movies, kids programming and exclusive original series. We also have daily updates on news, sports, and pop culture to keep you in the know.”
Unlike CBS All Access, Netflix and Disney+, Peacock offers a freemium plan with two tiers. In the free, ad-supported tier, viewers can access more than 7,500 hours of television and movies across mobile, web and connected TV platforms.
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Peacock Premium, available for $4.99 a month, features more than 15,000 hours of current and classic TV shows. Viewers can get an ad-free experience for an additional $5 per month. NBCUniversal promises there will be five minutes or less of advertising per hour of programming. Peacock Premium shows include:
- Streaming channels with clips from popular shows like Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, Seth Meyers, the SNL Vault, NBC News Now and Sky News.
- Daily news and pop culture highlights from TODAY, NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press, Noticias Telemundo, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Sports, E! News and Access Hollywood
- Current seasons of NBC shows such as Chicago Fire, New Amsterdam, Saturday Night Live, America’s Got Talent, Meet the Press and Dateline
- Reality TV including Hell’s Kitchen, Botched, Million Dollar Listing and The Real Housewives of Dallas
- Bingeworthy dramas including Psych, Monk, House and Alfred Hitchcock Presents
- Docuseries like Forensic Files, Unsolved Mysteries and Snapped
- Film archives including E.T., Meet the Parents, Schindler’s List and Liar Liar
- Kids programming
- Live events
“Now more than ever there is a need for a free quality streaming service that can provide viewers with both the information they need to stay informed and entertainment they seek to escape the moment,” said Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, in an April 14 announcement. “With Peacock, we will deliver many of the best movies and TV shows of our time—as well as timely news and topical programming—and do our part to bring people together through the power of entertainment.”
Dana Strong, president of Xfinity consumer services at Comcast, also commented on the launch of Peacock.
“Offering Peacock Premium at no additional cost, seamlessly integrated on Xfinity X1 and Flex is another example of our commitment to provide more value, content and choice to customers. With entertainment hours on our platforms up 24% versus last year, we know that our customers will enjoy discovering Peacock and all its great content during this exclusive preview period,” said Strong.
We were skeptical when we heard another network was coming out with a streaming on demand service. However, CBS has done quite well with CBS All Access, and NBCUniversal has managed to put together quite a line-up of programming, including originals, highlights, popular and classic TV shows and movies. By doing a soft launch, the company can identify what programs are doing well and get consumer feedback before doing a national launch in July.
Given current circumstances, they are likely to build goodwill among Comcast customers who may enjoy the free preview over the next three months. At the same time, NBCUniversal has time to work with its launch sponsors and other advertisers to remain sustainable despite the postponement of the Summer Olympics. We expect Peacock to do well, though they may get off to a slower-than-expected start because of the coronavirus crisis. ABC, are you listening? It is your turn next.