After months of waiting, the final big streaming service launch of 2020 is here. NBCUniversalâ€™s Peacock promises users a mix of classic and recent TV shows and movies, plus news and sports programs, and much of that content is free to stream. However, its free content may be its best feature, at least for now. Here is our initial Peacock review, based on accessing the service in its first few hours.
Initial Peacock review: Content
For the price of $0, you can stream about 13,000 hours of content, with some interruptions for ads. If you can stand getting hit by the occasional commercial, you might find something to watch to pass the time away, such as binge-watching Parks and Recreation. You can also watch a select number of current TV shows for free, including This is Us, Law and Order: SVU, and more. Thereâ€™s also a selection of feature films to watch for free, including (for the moment) the first three Jurassic Park and Bourne movies from Universal Studios. Itâ€™s not the most extensive library of content to stream, but itâ€™s free.
The service also features live streaming channels, similar to Pluto TV, for a more old-fashioned television experience. You can watch episodes of reality TV shows, NBC Today news segments, and more. Surprisingly, it also features a streaming channel that includes short segments of The Office. The show itself is currently a Netflix streaming exclusive until January 2021, after which it will officially move to Peacock. In the meantime, Office fans can get short fixes on Peacock for free.
If you want to add more movies and shows, including live Premier League soccer matches, you will have to pay for Peacock Premium. It costs $4.99 with ads, with a seven day free trial, or $9.99 to get rid of most of the commercials (a few shows and movies will still have at least one ad, even with the $9.99 a month tier). Quite frankly, unless you want to watch all of the Peacock originals and more older content, itâ€™s hard to justify signing up even for the $4.99 a month tier.
Initial Peacock review: Original content is still pretty sparse
Much like HBO Max, which launched a couple of months ago without a lot of original content, Peacock also launches without a ton of exclusive shows and movies. Its biggest original series is Brave New World, based on the classic sci-fi novel by Aldous Huxley. This adaptation shows a future Earth where most humans are born in a lab and keep their feelings controlled by drugs. Monogamy and even privacy are considered taboo. However, the showâ€™s first few episodes indicate some cracks in this â€œperfectâ€� future are forming.
Just a word of warning: Brave New World is not for kids. Thereâ€™s lots of nudity and sexual scenes, especially in the pilot. However, our impression of the show is that thereâ€™s not a lot that really happens in the first few episodes. Itâ€™s definitely well produced with great visual effects and production values. We just wish we cared more about the characters, and what they are going through.
Fans of the great comedy detective show Psych will likely be happy that the series, and the first reunion movie, are available to binge-watch on Peacock. They will be even happier to watch the second reunion movie as a Peacock exclusive. Psych 2: Lassie Come Home brings fake psychic Shawn and his loyal partner Gus back to solve another case.Â
Other original Peacock shows at the moment include two UK imports: The spy comedy series Intelligence, and the crime drama The Capture. One thing in Peacockâ€™s favor is that the service is dropping all of the episodes of these exclusive shows at once. That is unlike some recent exclusive shows on Disney Plus and HBO Max that have been making users wait to get a new episode each week.
The user interface on both the web and Android versions of Peacock offers big images of the movies and TV shows in its library for easy access. However, we did notice a few performance issues on the Android app, with a few slow loading times on our Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
Like HBO Max, Peacock lacks Roku and Amazon Fire TV apps at launch. We are not sure why NBCUniversal wants to limit its subscriber base by launching this service without the support of arguably the two biggest smart TV platforms. Also like HBO Max, thereâ€™s no 4K streaming support for Peacock movies and shows. Another big strike against this new service is that thereâ€™s no downloadable support for the mobile apps for watching content offline. Finally, Peacock offers no profile support yet
Initial Peacock review: Itâ€™s a mess but it is (mostly) free
HBO Max had its launch issues, and it is expensive at $14.99 a month. However, that service offered a lot of great content to stream, plus profile and downloadable mobile video support. Peacockâ€™s biggest feature is that you can watch the majority of its content for free, and thereâ€™s some great stuff available if you can stand the ads. However, while we might pay $14.99 for HBO Max, thereâ€™s really not enough here to pay the minimal amount for Peacock Premium. Save that $4.99 a month and get Apple TV Plus instead. Heck, even Quibi offers better original content for the same amount of money as Peacock does.
We will wait a few months for our final review to see if the service adds some good original content, and more importantly better features. In the meantime, will you be checking out Peacock for yourself, and will you pay for its premium content?