Last updated on September 18th, 2023
I last looked at Peacock, Comcast’s streaming service, back in 2021 when it was still somewhat new. Given the changes in the streaming landscape (and Peacock itself) over the last two years, I thought I’d take an updated look at the streaming service.
Why the name “Peacock?”
Despite the mixed (and juvenile) reactions the streaming service’s name has received, “Peacock” refers to the bird that’s been NBC’s logo since 1956 (as well as the actual bird species, specifically the name for male peafowls). The peacock was chosen to promote NBC’s color broadcasting lineup. As such, an animated opening bumper ran before NBC’s color shows, proclaiming them as “brought to you in living color.” (CBS and ABC had similar bumpers before their color programs.) The peacock bumper ran until the early 70s, when color TV sales finally eclipsed black-and-white sales, though NBC’s primetime lineup had switched to all-color by 1966.
The Peacock streaming service, reflecting all of this, uses multicolored dots as part of its logo.
Pros of Peacock
Peacock currently offers two tiers:
- Premium, at $5/month or $50/year, which offers the full catalog with ads. It also comes with live streaming of NBC’s sports (Sunday Night Football, Premier League soccer, etc.) and WWE wrestling.
- Premium Plus, at $10/month or $100/year, offers the same features as Premium, but without ads. Premium Plus also live streams your local NBC affiliate.
Peacock is also on sale pretty often, especially on Black Friday. Until June, the Premium tier was available for free to Comcast customers.
Live NBC streaming
As mentioned above, Peacock’s $10 tier now offers live NBC streaming. While a recent addition to Peacock, it’s an overdue and welcome improvement. It helps put Peacock more on par with its similar rival service, Paramount+. It also caters to those that don’t want to or can’t use a TV antenna, or don’t want to shell out for a premium live streaming service.
Live streaming “channels”
Similar to Pluto TV, Peacock offers a selection of live streaming “channels” based on the NBC/Universal library. Show- and category-specific channels include ones for “Saturday Night Live,” NBC News, “Modern Family” (for Pride month), and various movies. Content that’s also available on demand has the option to start watching from the beginning.
The streaming channels also include NBC’s local news from several major cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Miami (“south Florida”).
The Hallmark cable channels
Peacock now carries (as part of the live streaming channels above) several of Hallmark’s cable channels, including the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama. The on-demand side also carries Hallmark’s famous holiday romantic comedy movies.
The NBC and Universal catalog
Peacock offers much of the NBC and Universal Studios catalog (all three are owned by Comcast), plus some third-party material. Some content is available in 4K. Said material is organized by the usual generic categories (“TV Shows,” “Movies,” etc.), as well as a “Featured Brands” section that divides everything into the following categories:
- Peacock Originals: These include: a dramatic reboot of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”; “Girls 5 Eva”; “Rutherford Falls”; “Poker Face”; a CGI reboot of much-maligned children’s cartoon “Caillou”; and a spin-off of “The Best Man” movies.
- NBC: Recent and current popular NBC (or Comcast-owned) programming, such as “The Office,” “Saturday Night Live,” and the various “Law and Order” spin-offs. Classic programming includes “Quantum Leap,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Columbo.” Peacock is also now the home of “Days of Our Lives,” the long-running soap opera.
- Bravo: The cable channel’s popular reality programming, including the various “Real Housewives” shows, “Vanderpump Rules,” and “Top Chef.”
- Hallmark: As noted above, this includes the Hallmark Channel’s movie library, including a year-round section for its holiday rom-coms.
- Premier League: Live and recorded games, highlights, and documentaries for the British soccer league.
- Telemundo: Programming for the Comcast-owned Spanish-language TV network.
- WWE: The streaming home for the pro wrestling league, including current programs and a large back library of older material, documentaries, etc. There are also subcategories for various WWE-related material (“Raw,” “Smackdown,” “NXT,” etc.).
- MSNBC: MSNBC’s programs, though not streamed live (you’ll need a live streaming service for the actual MSNBC channel).
- NFL: Highlights, previous games, and documentaries. Peacock also live streams NFL games airing on NBC, including “Sunday Night Football.”
- Focus Features: A studio that carries independent and international films.
- NBC News: NBC’s various news programs and newsmagazines are here, along with a live streaming NBC News “channel.”
Other noteworthy programming on Peacock:
- Holiday specials “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.”
- The popular Paramount Network show “Yellowstone.” If wondering, Paramount leased “Yellowstone” to Peacock before seeing it become a big hit/deciding to revamp their own streaming service into Paramount+. However, the “Yellowstone” spin-offs are all on Paramount+.
- Universal’s movie catalog is available, including some recent releases.
- Animated TV shows on Peacock include: PBS’ “Curious George”; the late 1990s “Woody Woodpecker” series; DreamWorks TV shows, including several “How to Train Your Dragon” spin-offs, “Madagascar: A Little Wild,” and “TrollsTopia”; and third party cartoons, such as the various “Strawberry Shortcake” TV series, South Africa’s “Supa Strikas” and the UK’s “Postman Pat.”
- Animated movies include some of the DreamWorks and Illumination films, including (as of this writing) “Despicable Me,” “Turbo,” “Spirit,” and “The Secret Life of Pets.”
Peacock carries NBC’s sports coverage, including “Sunday Night Football,” some college football games, Premier League soccer games, tennis, and Olympics coverage.
Peacock’s Olympics coverage is, like NBC’s infamously mediocre coverage, hit and miss, though it worked OK for me during the 2022 games. However, Comcast vows to improve their Olympics coverage on Peacock in future games, starting with the 2024 summer games in Paris.
The WWE, which once had its own stand-alone streaming service, now calls Peacock home. Peacock offers all current episodes, special events like “Wrestlemania,” plus a back catalog of episodes.
I haven’t paid attention to wrestling since high school; I only know about some current wrestlers because A) some people I follow online are fans and B) those direct-to-video WWE/Hanna-Barbera crossover movies from the mid-2010s. Still, the WWE makes Peacock a must-have for wrestling fans.
Cons of Peacock
A smaller catalog versus its competitors
Peacock’s catalog isn’t the biggest. Similar to Paramount, NBCUniversal simply isn’t as big as its rival media conglomerates Disney (Disney+, Hulu) and Warner Bros. (Max).
As such, Peacock has fewer big franchises on the movie side; they mainly seem to be “Jurassic Park,” “The Fast and the Furious,” and their horror films, plus any prominent recent Universal films. On the TV side, Peacock is pretty reliant on NBC’s shows, plus reality programming and some originals. “The Office” and “Saturday Night Live” are fairly well promoted, along with WWE matches, sports, and Bravo’s reality shows. Ditto “Yellowstone,” which is probably one of Peacock’s biggest draws, despite being owned by a competitor.
Finally, Peacock’s animation catalog is pretty anemic. Peacock offers Woody Woodpecker, but unfortunately not his classic cartoons, just the 90s reboot. While Comcast owns DreamWorks and Illumination, part of those studios’ catalogs aren’t available on Peacock at all (or only temporarily). Heavy fans of Shrek and the Minions might be better off either using Netflix (which has a fair amount of the DreamWorks and Illumination catalog) or buying the DVDs/digital videos.
Streaming services often don’t carry all of their corporate owners’ media libraries. It’s often the case that TV shows and movies are licensed to other services, rotate in and out, or are simply unavailable. There’s also the unfortunate recent trend toward purging content to cut costs. Most of this is also true for Peacock. A few examples, all as of this writing:
- As noted above, part of the DreamWorks and Illumination library isn’t available. Much of DreamWorks’ fare is made for, or licensed to, other streaming services, particularly Netflix. “Cleopatra in Space,” a Peacock Original, is also available on Hulu.
- The classic Universal monster films seem to be missing.
- The “Phantasm” films are all available, except for part II.
- The “Back to the Future” films aren’t available; they’re on Amazon’s free ad-supported service Freevee.
- “Law & Order” has only nine seasons available; however, “Special Victims Unit” is all here.
- The original 70s “Battlestar Galactica” series is unavailable, but the revivals from the aughts are on Peacock.
- “Seinfeld” and “Friends” aren’t on Peacock, despite being cornerstones of NBC’s lineup in the 90s. The former’s on Netflix, while the latter’s on Max.
Organization of material on Peacock seems to be OK. Ditto the amount of ads in the ad-based tier.
Peacock once had a free tier. However, they’ve since dropped this service, to try to bolster its paid tiers.
For parents, setting up a kids’ account has one major flaw: Peacock doesn’t filter out avatars from non-kid-friendly TV shows or movies. As such, you can select Chucky (from the “Child’s Play” Peacock Original series) or actor Ice T’s character from “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as a kids’ profile avatar. Checking, other streaming services (such as Paramount+) filter out age-inappropriate avatars if setting up a kids profile.
Who should use Peacock?
I’d recommend Peacock for the following users:
- WWE fans.
- Premier League fans.
- Those that want live NBC coverage (say, for sports/live events), but can’t get it over-the-air or elsewhere.
- Hallmark fans who can’t get that programming elsewhere, or just want it for the holidays.
- Olympics fans.
- “Yellowstone” fans.
- Fans of specific NBC/Peacock shows or franchises.
- Movie buffs who want access to the Universal film library.
- Those who bought it at a steep discount (say, during a Black Friday sale).
Overall, Peacock is an adequate secondary streaming service that, for most people, won’t replace Netflix, Disney+, or Hulu. (Despite Comcast yanking much of its material off of Hulu to move to Peacock.) While Peacock’s improved since my 2021 review, unless you fall into the above categories, or got it on sale, it still isn’t a “must-have” service.
For myself, I like Paramount+ (another secondary service) better. Compared to Peacock, Paramount+ has a stronger library, as well as a vastly better animation catalog. I might not be alone in feeling this way; Paramount+ as of this writing has 60 million subscribers (as well as 17.4 million for Showtime), while Peacock has only 22 million subscribers. Those include international subscribers, including, ironically, “SkyShowtime,” a service in parts of Europe that’s a joint venture of Peacock and Paramount+.
Do you subscribe to Peacock? If so, do you have a favorite program on it? Let everyone know in the comments below.
Peacock movie screen with “Jurassic Park.” (Peacock / screenshot by author)