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NBC’s Peacock: Prices, devices, discounts, launch date, shows and movies

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Peacock will launch in the US nationwide next week with a seven-day free trial for its premium tiers, and preordering early unlocks a discount. Here’s everything you need to know.

Peacock launches across the US on Wednesday. 

Peacock, a streaming service from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, launches Wednesday across the US, with a seven-day free trial for its premium tiers and an always-free tier that lets you sample about half its library of shows and movies with advertising. Peacock will have a big catalog, with about 20,000 hours of shows, movies, news, sports, skit-style clips and exclusive big-budget original programming. But, at least so far, it doesn’t have deals in place for you to watch it on Roku or Amazon Fire TV devices, and it’s not planning to support mobile downloads at launch. 

Competing with the likes of NetflixDisney Plus, HBO Max and others, Peacock is the last big new service going live in the flood of them launching from tech and media giants over the last year — though, technically, Peacock has launched already. Peacock kicked off as a “sneak peek” April 15 for some Comcast customers only. 

But the nationwide launch on Wendesday will widen the service to anyone in the US who wants to watch it, and Peacock’s first original shows and movies will drop then too. 

A limited version of the service, with about half the catalog, will be free with advertising. You can unlock the full library of shows and movies for a price. If you preorder an annual subscription before launch, you can get a $20 discount for the first year. It will launch with a standard seven-day free trial for its premium tiers, and people who sign up on a Google platform like Android after launch can snag an extended free trial until October. 

Read more: Hulu vs. Peacock: Which streaming service is best for you?

And Peacock is working on deals, like ones it already has with parent company Comcast and with Cox Communications, to bundle Peacock Premium with their cable services as a no-added-cost perk. (Full details on deals, free trials and discounts for Peacock are below.)

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, several plans for Peacock‘s wider rollout were upended. Filming production of original programming is largely shut down now, and the plan to piggyback Peacock’s national launch on NBC’s live coverage of the summer Olympics is moot now that the games have been pushed back to 2021. So when Peacock does launch in July across the US, it won’t be precisely what NBC envisioned. 

But the service will have a number of new original shows and movies to watch Wednesday. Peacock’s launch slate of originals available includes Brave New World, which is Peacock’s marquee sci-fi drama adapting Aldous Huxley’s novel, and a Psych movie sequel. (More details on the full launch slate below, too.)

Peacock is NBCUniversal’s entry in the so-called streaming wars, a seven-month window with big-budget service launches stacking on top of each other.  Netflix dominates streaming subscriptions, and Peacock also faces new services like Disney PlusApple TV Plus, and WarnerMedia‘s HBO Max — not to mention Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and CBS All Access, among other established options. (Note: ViacomCBS is the parent company of CNET.) These battles will not only determine who shapes the future of television as streaming becomes the norm, they’ll also influence how many services you pay for to watch your favorite shows and movies. 

Because of the coronavirus and its respiratory disease, COVID-19, shutting down television production globally, the majority of Peacock’s originals were disrupted. While it’ll have nine originals available at launch in July (and Peacock has said it’s optimistic that its Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell reboots will be available this year), much of its exclusive, new programming won’t materialize until far later than planned. Not until 2021 will Peacock “arguably really be hitting its stride,” according to Matt Strauss, the executive in charge of Peacock. 

But Peacock will still have a big vault of existing shows and movies to stream there, including The Office (available next year), Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and Law & Order, not to mention tons of movies from its Universal and Dreamworks Animation studios. Peacock is also licensing shows and movies from other companies. Its latest deal is with ViacomCBS for a handful of series that originally ran on CBS, Showtime, the CW and BET, plus a list of movies from Paramount, including The Godfather trilogy. Past seasons of the Paramount TV show Yellowstone will stream there too. (See below for a deeper dive into the catalog.)

Peacock is unusual in the “streaming wars” in that it has a free tier. This free version of the service includes ads and will wall off roughly half of Peacock’s programming. It’s also unusual among the crop of new services in that it’ll have live sports and news, while most of the newest streaming services are focused squarely on video-on-demand catalogs along the lines of Netflix. 

So is Peacock worth paying for? All the details on Peacock are below, but basically: If you love NBC’s style of programming or you want even more big-name movies to stream — and especially if Netflix has spoiled you into hating ads — you may find yourself paying for yet another streaming service. 

NBCUniversal launched a “preview” of Peacock’s streaming service April 15 for Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cable customers and its Flex streaming customers. Peacock will launch for everyone else in the US on Wednesday. 

International expansion will come, Peacock has said, but it didn’t specify a timeline.

Peacock’s launch comes near the tail end of a busy time for new streaming services. April brought the debut of Quibi, a mobile streaming service from Hollywood giant Jeffrey Katzenberg, which is focusing on bite-size films. HBO Max launched in the US at the end of May, and Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus both rolled out in November. 

Peacock will have three tiers: a limited one that’s free, an all-inclusive one that’s $4.99 a month with ads and an all-inclusive one that’s $9.99 a month without ads. 

The free tier limits how much you can watch. For example, Peacock planned to offer only select episodes of its originals free, withholding the rest inside its paywall. This limited free tier was planned to have access to roughly half of Peacock’s total catalog of movies, current season TV, TV classics, curated daily news, sports, Hispanic programming and Peacock streaming channels. 

Both paid tiers are called Peacock Premium, basically an all-access pass to everything on the service. That means about 20,000 hours of content. Peacock Premium is $4.99 a month or $50 a year with advertising, or you can upgrade to an ad-free version for $9.99 a month or $100 a year. 

The tiers with advertising are supposed to have no more than five minutes of commercials per hour.

After launch, Peacock will offer a seven-day free trial standard for any new signups to either premium tier. 

If you preorder a year of the service before launch on Wednesday, you can save $20 on an annual subscription. Preordering a year of the service with ads costs $30; preordering an ad-free annual subscription costs $80. 

If you sign up for the service through its Android app or another Google platform, Peacock is offering an extended free trial until Oct. 15. This free trial is for the ad-supported level of Peacock Premium until Oct. 15, at which point you’ll be charged the normal $4.99-a-month rate. 

And other people can score discounts that cut the cost of Peacock if they’re already customers of certain cable companies. Peacock will continue to give Comcast X1 and Flex subscribers the Premium version of the service at a $5 discount. So, if they want to watch with advertising, they pay nothing for Peacock Premium; if they want to watch ad-free, they need to pay $4.99 a month. 

Cox customers also get that $5-off deal. Peacock has said it’s working on partnerships to offer this discount to a wider array of consumers. 

These customers can also upgrade to watch Peacock ad-free by paying $5 a month. 

The pricing at Peacock’s competition runs the gamut. 

Among the services that have ad-supported options, Hulu is $5.99 a month with ads and $11.99 a month ad-free. CBS All Access charges $5.99 for its tier with advertising, and $9.99 for the ad-free version. And Quibi, a mobile-only subscription video service with an eye-popping lineup of stars, has set its monthly rate at $4.99 with ads and $7.99 ad-free.  

By comparison, Netflix, which has no ads, offers its cheapest tier at $8.99 a month, while its most popular plan is $12.99. Apple TV Plus is $4.99 a month, Disney Plus is $6.99 a month, and HBO Max is $14.99 a month. None of them include advertising. 

For now the “sneak peek” version of Peacock is only available to stream through Comcast’s own platforms. That means Xfinity X1 cable customers and Flex streaming customers can watch Peacock on TVs through their X1 box or Flex streaming box. 

For the nationwide launch in July, so far Peacock has confirmed support on:

So far, Peacock doesn’t have a deal for its app to be distributed on Roku or Amazon Fire TV devices. Strauss, the executive in charge of Peacock, said that Peacock will launch on Wednesday regardless of whether those deals come through, but he reiterated that Peacock wants to be widely supported.

CNET already has a Peacock review of the sneak-peak version that was rolled out in April to Comcast customers only. The full product launching Wednesday, however, will be meaningfully different. Not only will the new launch of Peacock include more content, but the product will also be organized differently with more features. 

For example, the April version of Peacock was designed to autoplay a trending video when you first opened the app, similar to how a cable-video service just starts playing TV as soon as you turn it on. But Peacock found that, among its early Comcast users, about half liked the autoplaying video but the other half preferred the app to start off in a so-called “browse state,” similar to how most streaming services open to a user interface that lets you pick what to watch from various recommendations. So Peacock is removing the autoplay video at launch for the version of the service going live nationally Wednesday. 

So far, though, Peacock hasn’t offered the final version of the product for review in advance, and it hasn’t spoken at length about major product features to expect. We do know:

Peacock is a nod to NBC’s longtime logo and mascot. Strauss said that calling the service Peacock was meant as an homage to NBC, but he stressed that the service is being assertive in licensing non-NBC content too. 

“We did not call this service NBC Plus. We called it Peacock. In many ways, that was by design,” he said. “Pay homage to NBCUniversal but not be limited to just NBCUniversal content.” 

At the service’s unveiling in January, writer, producer and actress Tina Fey said she originally wanted the title of 30 Rock to be The Peacock. “I was told it was a hard ‘no,’ and that it would not pass the censors,” she said. “And here we are.”

For now, NBC’s shows will keep streaming on Hulu. 

The Office will start streaming on Peacock in 2021.

NBC was a partner in Hulu for years. But last year, NBC and Comcast struck a deal with Disney to give Disney full Hulu control. That deal included terms that essentially allow NBC to have programming stream both on Hulu and on Peacock at the same time.

However, in about two years, NBC has the right (but not the obligation) to take all its programming off Hulu if it chooses. 

But “it’s too early to tell” whether NBC will want to go that route yet, NBCUniversal Chairman Steve Burke said at the presentation unveiling Peacock in January. 

The company has said Peacock Premium will have about 20,000 hours of content available; roughly half of it will be available on the free, ad-supported tier. So far, Peacock hasn’t provided a comprehensive listing of the titles that will be available at launch nor a detailed account of when exactly other titles will be arriving later. 

Generally, the service’s programming leans into NBCUniversal’s back catalog and its franchises, but there are a couple complexities there too. 

For one, The Office is one of the marquee shows that Peacock will stream, but the service doesn’t have The Office available at launch. Netflix has the rights to it until 2021; Peacock will start streaming it in January.

And Peacock is also licensing programming from other companies. A deal with ViacomCBS, for example, will give Peacock full seasons of shows such as Ray Donovan at launch, as well as certain classic Paramount movies later on over the course of more than three years, such as The Godfather trilogy. It’ll also have past seasons of Yellowstone, a hit summer drama on the Paramount Network, as well as licensed shows from A+E, like Storage Wars. 

As originally planned, Peacock said its free tier will include: 

With the Premium membership, you basically get an all-access pass. It includes everything on the free tier plus: 

Peacock will also include live programming, which originally was to include the now postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo. 

As far as news programming, Peacock will draw from brands like NBC News, Sky News, MSNBC and CNBC. It’ll stream same-day broadcasts of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd; live news channels will include NBC News Now, Sky News and NBC/Sky Global News (a new channel); it’ll feature clips from Today, CNBC, MSNBC, E! News, NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press; and it’ll widen into original content from the Meet the Press franchise, investigative documentaries including full seasons of Dateline and Lock Up, and library documentaries from NBC News and CNBC.

For its originals, the company generally tends to rely on new series from talent with a long track record at NBC, like Tiny Fey, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. It’s also betting on reboots of shows in its catalog with an enduring appeal. It’s already announced a revival of Battlestar Galactica (itself a reboot of the 1970s sci-fi series) by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and reboots of Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell. According to Deadline, NBCUniversal hopes to make a reboot of The Office, which itself was a remake of a British series. 

But not all Peacock’s original programming comes straight from NBCUniversal’s family tree. Some titles, like Brave New World, are fresh projects just for Peacock. 

At launch, Peacock will have nine total originals. The series will have all their episodes available at once to stream, a la Netflix. 

The launch originals are: 

The following are the originals in the pipeline for Peacock, but the timing of most of these projects is unclear.

Peacock will lean into Telemundo to reach Hispanic audiences with the streaming service, with more than 3,000 hours of Telemundo’s programming. So far, the company has specified that this will include the original dramedy Armas de Mujer, a new series from the makers of La Reina del Sur, and popular library titles 100 Dias Para Volver, Betty in NY, El Barón and Preso No. 1.

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This Article was first published on cnet.com

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