Yet another streaming service, Peacock, launches on Wednesday. And for thousands of Utahns, subscribing is a total no-brainer.
If you’re a Comcast/Xfinity customer, you’ll get it as part of your subscription. As a matter of fact, you already have it. A limited version of Peacock for current Comcast customers launched on April 15 — all you have to do is sign up online. (It’s easy. It just takes a few minutes.)
Do we need another streaming service? Nope. Why are we getting this one? Because Comcast/NBCUniversal wants to get in the streaming game and compete with Disney’s Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+; CBS All Access; AT&T/WarnerMedia’s HBO Max; Apple TV+; Amazon Prime and Netflix.
Comcast is the last of the media giants to launch a streaming service, and Peacock has a couple of disadvantages. There’s a lot of programming — about 20,000 hours, we’re told — but it doesn’t have a vast library to rival Disney+ or HBO Max. It’s launching with a few original programs — mostly British imports — which, for the most part, aren’t particularly good.
So what does Peacock have going for it?
Well, it’s relatively cheap. Go to peacocktv.com and you’ll see there’s a free tier that includes about half of its programming and includes commercials. The Peacock Premium tier costs $4.99 a month/$50 a year — it’s the one that comes with a Comcast subscription — and it also includes advertising. For $9.99 a month/$100 a year, you can get it without advertising. (Current Comcast subscribers can upgrade to no-advertising for $5 a month/$50 a year — and Peacock is working on deals with other cable companies.)
You can get a weeklong free trial for the Premium tier. And if you pay for a year before the launch date (July 15), you’ll get a discount.
Again, it can’t compete with Disney+ or HBO Max, but there’s a lot of great stuff, including excellent series like “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier,” “Cheers,” “Battlestar Galactica” (the 2003-09 reboot), “Downton Abbey,” “Law & Order,” “SVU,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Monk,” “Parenthood” and dozens more. (“The Office” moves to Peacock from Netflix in 2021.)
It also has hundreds of movies, from the “Jurassic Park” films to “E.T.,” as well as classic Universal horror films (like “Frankenstein” and “The Wolfman”) and the “Godfather” trilogy.
Peacock will include highlights from “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press,” “E! News,” “Access Hollywood” and “Noticias Telemundo,” as well as from shows on CNBC and MSNBC.
Unlike most of its competitors (other than CBS), Peacock will feature a lot of live — yes, LIVE — news and sports from NBC.
Granted, there aren’t a lot of sports being played right now. But Peacock is carrying English Premiere League soccer and NASCAR. And, eventually, we’ll start seeing NFL, NHL, Notre Dame football, golf and tennis again.
The Olympics were supposed to be a big draw for Peacock this summer. Maybe they will be in 2021, if there actually are Olympics.
Current NBC and Telemundo series will stream on Peacock the day after they air on the broadcast networks.
And Peacock will also stream the daytime soap “Days of Our Lives” and the syndicated daytime talk show “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
Peacock has 75 streaming channels, each devoted to a specific show or a specific channel.
They include channels with clips from “Tonight,” “Late Night” or “Saturday Night Live”; news from NBC News and Sky News; and genre channels like True Crime and Reality TV.
At the moment, this is the weak spot for Peacock. There will be nine originals when the service launches on Wednesday, and it’s not an impressive lineup:
“Brave New World” • This adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s classic novel is the most high-profile original show, but it begins as muddled and downright boring. Although it gets better, it never really catches fire.
“The Capture” • This British mystery thriller gets off to a good start, but falls apart at the end.
“Intelligence” • David Schwimmer (“Friends”) stars as an obnoxious American NSA agent who is assigned to work with British intelligence in London in this British comedy. It’s seriously terrible.
“Lost Speedways” • Dale Earnhardt Jr. hosts this “exploratory look at great racing cathedrals of the past.”
“In Deep with Ryan Lochte” • The ex-Olympic swimmer has done reality TV before — a short-lived, vapid series on E! back in 2013. That was before Lochte lied about being robbed at gunpoint at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil and his career collapsed. This reality show is supposed to show us he’s finally grown up.
“Psych 2: Lassie Come Home” • Fans of the original comedy/detective series, which ran on USA from 2006-14, will want to tune in to this new TV movie.
There are also three animated children’s shows — “Curious George”; “Cleopatra in Space” and “Where’s Waldo?”
Peacock will follow the Netflix model. All the new episodes of its original series will be available at the same time.
Warning: Only “selected” episodes of Peacock’s original shows will be on the free tier. The plan is for you to start watching and then ante up the $5 or $10 a month to watch the entire season.
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed production on a number of other new series Peacock announced. Although, let’s be honest, sequels to “Punky Brewster” and “Saved by the Bell” don’t exactly sound scintillating, and another reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” is completely unnecessary.
The list includes the true-crime drama “Dr. Death,” mystery/thriller “One of Us Is Lying” and a (second) reboot of “Queer as Folk”; and comedies “Rutherford Falls” (from Ed Helms and producer of “The Good Place” and “Parks and Rec”), “Straight Talk” (from Rashida Jones), “Expecting” (from Mindy Kaling), “Division One” (from Amy Poehler), “MacGruber” (from Will Forte), and “Girls5Eva” (from Tina Fey), just to name a few.
How to watch
On Apple • There are Peacock apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV 4k and Apple TV HD. And Apple has integrated Peacock into its own TV app.
On Google • Peacock will be available on Android phones, tablets and TV devices, and Chromecast devices.
On Xbox • There’s a Peacock app on Xbox One S and Xbox One X.
On TVs • Peacock will be available on LG Smart TV and Vizio SmartCast TVs.
As of this writing, Peacock has not made deals with Roku or Amazon Fire.
Is it worth it?
Well, it’s certainly worth FREE. If you have Comcast cable, you might just as well sign up. If you really, really hate commercials, it might be worth an extra $5 a month to avoid them.
But, at least at the moment, Peacock ranks at or near the bottom of the list of streaming services you’ve got to have. If you’re already paying for two or three (or more) of the others, I’d live with the commercials at least for a while and see if you actually spend much time watching Peacock.