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Reviewing every streaming service is what we do here at Cordcutting.com, and NBCUniversal's Peacock is not going to be an exception. Watching 30 Rock online is a tough job, but someone has got to do it — and I did, which is why I'm here now to tell you all about the good and the bad of Peacock in our Cordcutting.com Peacock review.

Peacock is one of a handful of exciting new services that have come out in the middle months of 2020. Like its peers HBO Max and Quibi, Peacock has launched with some platform support issues: If you're a Roku fan (like we are), then you may be sorry to hear that there's no Peacock app for Roku (not yet, anyway). But aside from those platform issues, there's a lot to like about Peacock. I liked the content, loved the price, and found a lot to recommend about the app to those who can actually download it.0

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Impressive free tier
  • Both live and on-demand content, including live sports
  • Quality content, including popular NBC hits

Cons:

  • Major platform support issues. No support for Roku and Fire TV devices, among others
  • No user profiles within account
  • No content downloads
  • Missing some NBC hits, including The Office

Peacock Review

User Experience

Signing up for Peacock was easy. Using it was even easier. Peacock’s user experience is very simple and very pleasant. It is missing a few bells and whistles that we’re used to, though.

Peacock’s app opens up to a “trending” tab, which tries to get you watching something right away. The trending tab includes news, sports, sitcoms, and more — basically, whatever folks are watching.

Peacock review - Featured shows

The “browse” tab offers a more typical streaming service experience. You’ve got your “featured” content and little sub-tabs for TV shows, movies, and more specific content types like “Kids,” news, sports, and “Latino.” Rows within the tabs narrow things down a bit more and include more detailed sub-categories with actual genre information (“Comic Relief,” “Serious Cinema,” “Action & Adventure,” and so on). It’s not the neatest sort of organization, but it will look pretty familiar to you if you’ve used apps like Netflix or Hulu in the past few years. It’s all about guiding you to something to watch fast, but it’s not a great way to sort content if you have something more specific in mind (if you’re in the mood for a horror movie, it can be a little tough to find that). If you happen to know exactly what you want to watch, you can use the search function.

Peacock app - channels tab

There’s a third main tab besides “Trending” and “Browse,” and that’s “Channels.” This tab presents Peacock content in a way that looks a lot like live TV. The content is organized by “channels,” which are new streaming networks built on existing NBC brands. The content is auto-playing on a schedule, so surfing these “channels” feels a bit like using cable or satellite. It’s easy to find something that’s “just on.” The approach is pretty similar to what Pluto TV does. I loved it when Pluto TV did it, and I love it now. It’s a passive sort of viewing option that feels a lot more laid-back than all of the algorithmic efforts that services use to get me to start on-demand content. I don’t like being bullied into starting something new, but I really don’t mind channel-surfing and tuning into a show midstream.

Peacock was missing some features we’re used to seeing. A big one was user profiles. If you sign up for Peacock, you only get one user profile. In other words, anyone who logs into your account is sharing one profile, and their viewing habits and preferences will affect what you see. Some services, like Netflix, let us create multiple user profiles within one account, meaning that your friend or your spouse can have their own preferences and viewing history that won’t affect your recommendations. With Peacock, you might log in and be prompted to “continue watching” your husband or daughter’s favorite show, and your featured content might be full of the stuff that they were watching while you were logged out. It’s not the end of the world, but it would have been nice to get individual profiles and a more customizable experience.

Content

Peacock is NBCUniversals’s take on the streaming service. As you’d expect, it’s chock full of NBC and Universal content. That means NBC hits like 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation, plus NBC news content, Universal movies, and even live broadcasts from NBC Sports.

Not all things NBC are on the service. Seinfeld, one of NBC’s biggest successes ever, is over on Hulu on a pricey licensing deal. Friends, another mega-hit, is on HBO Max. The Office isn’t on Peacock yet, but it will be: When the show leaves Netflix in 2021, it will head over to Peacock. (In the meantime, Peacock is getting by on little mini-clips. One of the “channels” on Peacock plays short clips from the Office. Each clip is pretty short — imagine the sorts of clips that you could watch on NBC’s website, but strung together to form a kind of Office-themed variety hour.)

Peacock review - browse tab in iOS app

Peacock is short on true original content. The NBCUniversal stuff is “original” in the sense that NBCUniversal owns it, but it’s not “original” to Peacock — for the most part, these are all shows and movies that you could have seen elsewhere in years past. Totally brand-new and Peacock-exclusive content is in pretty short supply, at least so far. To be fair, Peacock launched during a global pandemic, when shooting new and timely content is impossible to do safely. It’s easy to imagine that we might see more new stuff in 2021 or 2022 than we’re seeing in 2020.

Peacock offers movies like Do the Right Thing (1989)

Overall, I was pretty pleased with what I saw on Peacock — especially because the vast majority of this stuff is available on Peacock’s free tier (we’ll talk more about the prices in a moment). Some big-name shows are missing, but the overall library is really strong.

Streaming Quality

Peacock offers 4K HDR streaming. That means 4K Ultra-HD — a super-sharp type of HD that’s basically twice as good as the typical 1080p “full HD” — and high dynamic range, which basically means darker blacks and lighter whites, with more vivid colors in between. To get this fancy-pants streaming quality, though, you’ll need a paid Peacock Premium account. Free accounts top out at 1080p HD, which is still a very respectable quality. (Not all of Peacock’s content is available in 4K HDR, so some content will top out at 1080p even if you’re a Premium subscriber.)

There’s no option to drop the quality below 1080p HD in the app, but if you’re worried about data use you can toggle an option for “Wifi only playback,” meaning the videos won’t stream when you’re on a mobile network only. Unfortunately, there’s no way to download videos and play them locally — it’s streaming or nothing with Peacock.

I found Peacock to be very reliable on the streaming front. I had no issues with Peacock’s servers or connection speed. Everything stayed in HD whenever I was streaming on Wi-Fi or mobile networks.

Platform Support

Peacock is one of a few exciting new services that have come out of the gate with pretty weak platform support. It’s disappointing, because it’s always fun to try out new services like this on our favorite platforms, including Roku and Fire TV. Peacock is missing support for those platforms. As of this writing, so are Quibi and HBO Max — for whatever reason, services and platforms can’t seem to get on the same page right now.

Whatever is going on, the end result is that users like us can’t fire up apps like Peacock on popular platforms like Roku and Fire TV. That stinks, and it’s a major problem with Peacock (and Quibi, and HBO Max, and so on), because platforms like Roku and Fire TV are really convenient ways to stream on our regular TV screens — and they’re really popular with customers, too.

You can watch Peacock on your TV with Android TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast. Other than that, you’ll have to stick with mobile apps (for Android and iOS) or in-browser apps. (The only other options are set-top boxes from select pay TV providers.)

Platform support is definitely a weak point for Peacock. Hopefully that will change in the future, but for now we have to knock Peacock for this.

Price

Price is a really bright spot for Peacock. This is a very affordable service that is pretty generous with its features and content.

Let’s start with the cheapest option: a free account. Peacock is free to sign up for, and free users can access a ton of great content. Not all Peacock content is free, but a surprising amount of good stuff is. Free users will see ads in their content.

If you upgrade to Peacock Premium, you’ll pay $4.99 per month. That will give you access to everything that Peacock has to offer, but you’ll still have ads in your content.

Peacock Premium content

The priciest Peacock subscription option is Peacock Premium’s ad-free version. This option is $9.99 per month and includes all of the content that Peacock Premium has, without the ads in on-demand content. Keep in mind that this doesn’t get rid of all of the ads, though. The live content will still have the usual built-in ad breaks that you remember from live cable and satellite broadcasts, and Peacock will keep right on filling those spaces with ads. It’s only the on-demand content that gets affected by the ad-free upgrade.

Peacock has a free trial offer. If you sign up for Peacock Premium, you can watch for seven days for free before you have to pay. You can cancel at any time and just go back to Peacock Free, so the trial is risk-free.

Verdict

Peacock isn’t perfect. It’s missing some of the quality-of-life perks that we like to see, like individual user accounts. It’s also missing some big-name NBC hits like Seinfeld and Friends. Most importantly, it’s missing platform support for our favorite platforms.

But Peacock does have a ton of great content, a simple and engaging user experience, an awesome “TV guide”-style faux-live channel menu, genuine live news and sports content, and some really cost-effective subscription plans — including one of the best free plans we’ve seen in streaming.

Overall, Peacock is a very exciting new service. Its subscription option may not be world-beating, but it’s free version is fantastic. If Peacock can add support for our favorite platforms, it will be a real threat in the streaming wars. For now, it’s a solid streaming option for mobile, Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast users that other streamers should be keeping an eye on.