Peacock hands-on: NBC’s streaming service isn’t must-see TV yet

Matthew N. Henry

NBC’s new Peacock streaming provider is at the moment in “sneak peek” method, with no original programming and restricted availability — only Comcast subscribers with specified Television devices can observe it. I stay in Comcast region and have an Xfinity Flex streaming box, so I took Peacock out for a stroll, er, strut, to get a experience for its layout and content. Regardless of the low value (totally free) and additional than fifteen,000 several hours truly worth of Television reveals and videos, I am not positive how considerably I am going to use it. There is just not sufficient persuasive content available still.


  • It really is totally free
  • Less ads than Hulu
  • Presents latest news and late-night time reveals

Don’t Like

  • Lacking new, original reveals and quite a few marquee catalog titles
  • Quite couple videos from the earlier 10 years
  • Trending part not a very good in shape for TVs

Peacock’s total start will transpire in July, but even then it will be additional restricted than initially prepared. The coronavirus has place a halt to Television generation throughout the board, together with Peacock’s originals, and pushed the Olympics back a calendar year to the summer season of 2021, delaying Peacock’s exclusive coverage of the video games. Devoid of all those hooks you can find minor incentive for viewers like me to add Peacock to their steady of streaming solutions.

Even as a totally free addition to my Flex box, Peacock struggles towards other streaming alternatives. It does look to show less ads than Hulu, but Hulu has so considerably additional to observe. For now the only use I can think of for Peacock is to show my children some outdated SNL sketches or observe a couple outdated videos. In purchase to stand out from the streaming pack, Peacock needs its very own reveals. Or maybe additional importantly, it needs to grow to be the residence to timeless NBC classics like The Place of work, which will not likely hit Peacock right up until 2021. In the meantime, of study course, you can observe it on Netflix. 

What is trending (according to Peacock)

Suitable absent, Peacock seems distinctive than Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Primary Video, the a few streaming solutions I frequently use. Rather of becoming introduced with a grid of thumbnails I was dumped suitable into a online video of what Peacock deems is trending. The initially was celeb salad: a Now show clip with Carson Daly providing an update of Brad Pitt serving as the weatherman for John Krasinski’s Some Fantastic News show. The upcoming day it was Jimmy Fallon’s at-residence monologue from the prior night time.


Matt Elliott/CNET

The best online video in the Trending part plays quickly — you are not able to fast-forward or rewind, but if you hit the down arrow you may move to the upcoming online video in the listing. The range operates from SNL sketches and Fallon skits to NBC news and sporting activities updates, and also incorporates stuff which is not even close to “trending,” like random scenes from outdated NBC reveals. I liked Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy and the gang from 30 Rock, but I will not at any time sit down on my sofa seeking to observe an arbitrary clip from a ten-calendar year-outdated sitcom. 

Read through additional: NBC’s Peacock seems like a streamified model of Comcast X1 cable

As the initially part you see each individual time you open up Peacock, Trending seems like it would be a improved in shape on a mobile phone, where you could observe a news update or two during your commute or while waiting in line for lunch. At this time, Peacock lacks a cell app. It also lacks multiple consumer profiles and 4K streaming. Peacock says that stuff is all coming in July. 

Channels aren’t what you think

From Trending you can navigate to the Channels and Browse sections of the app. Channels glimpse form of like a cable box grid information, but instead of networks and cable channels, you get rows curated all over a show or theme. I was disappointed to come across that most of it was not new. The initially channel, SNL Vault, reveals a blend of Saturday Evening Stay sketches from in excess of the decades. Two some others — Fallon Tonight and Seth Myers Now — are stuffed with bits from earlier seasons, not Fallon’s latest at-residence broadcasts. 


Matt Elliott/CNET

The Place of work channel is labeled as Place of work Shorts and reveals a scene from just one episode in this article followed by a scene from a different episode there, which is not how I like to digest my Place of work reruns. The Hell’s Kitchen channel does show full episodes, and I discovered full episodes of Ghost Hunters on the Out of this World channel. The relaxation of the channels, 21 in all, concentration primarily on accurate crime, fact Television and Spanish-language reveals.

There is a pair of news channels in the blend, NBC News Now and Sky News, which in fact show latest news reviews from each individual. Regardless of not becoming stay, even so, these channels do not let you fast-forward or rewind.

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Searching deep into NBC’s back catalog

The Browse part is the most comparable in layout to other streaming solutions, and it should be the residence website page instead of Trending. There is a significant carousel of “hero” tiles at the best and rows of thumbnails down below, labeled Continue Viewing, Peacock Picks, Comfort Television, Coming Before long, Rotten Tomatoes Authorised Films and so on. 

The very best reveals available now are 30 Rock and Parks and Rec, and you get all 7 seasons of each individual. You also get the full operate of older reveals, together with Cheers, Frasier, House and Monk. For some reveals, even so, you get only a current handful of seasons. Peacock presents the previous 5 seasons of Saturday Evening Stay and the previous eight seasons of Law and Purchase (but all 21 seasons of Law and Purchase: SVU). It really is the reverse for other reveals — you get the initially a few seasons of 21 Leap Street and The Carol Burnett Clearly show.


Peacock’s look through display screen has a substantial catalog.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Right until its original reveals this kind of as Courageous New World and reboots of outdated favorites this kind of as Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster are equipped to move from the Coming Before long belt and to the best of the display screen, Peacock’s choices are a lot less than persuasive. Also conspicuously lacking are NBC stalwarts Pals, Seinfeld and The Place of work, whose rights are at the moment owned by competing streaming solutions.

In the Films category, you may come across roughly four hundred titles but quite couple from the earlier 10 years. (Think Alfred Hitchcock instead than Bong Joon-ho.) In the Leading Rated belt, there are a dozen videos but none from the earlier 14 decades, with the most current becoming 2006’s Youngsters of Adult men. You can expect to come across tons of classics, even so, from Psycho and Rear Window to E.T. and Jurassic Park. 

Read through additional: Netflix alternatives: The ten very best totally free motion picture streaming solutions

For titles that aren’t clear classics, Peacock helpfully shows Rotten Tomatoes rankings. Motion picture thumbnails involve a pink-tomato, “clean” ranking but do not display a score if the motion picture is rated “rotten.” You can see the score for any motion picture with a Rotten Tomatoes ranking, very good or terrible, right after choosing it.


Peacock has some very good videos, but nothing at all newer than the “essential cable” time frame.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Less ads than Hulu

I place Peacock’s advert load up towards the advert-supported, $6 model of Hulu and discovered that Hulu forces me to expend additional time observing commercials. For a 22-minute episode of Parks and Rec, Peacock served up a few advert breaks of various lengths and no advert before the episode. In just one test, I bought a twenty-next advert, a 45-next advert and a 30-next advert. The upcoming episode, the a few ads ended up ten, 60 and 60 seconds in duration. On Hulu, I had to sit as a result of a few, 60-next advert breaks and a fifteen-next advert before the episode began. 

With videos, both equally Peacock and Hulu do not interrupt you after the popcorn is popped, the lights are dimmed and the show has began. You can expect to will need to sit as a result of an advert before the motion picture begins, but which is not any distinctive than in a theater. Peacock’s ads before a motion picture, even so, are lengthier. Just before Do the Suitable Issue? 115 seconds of ads. Just before Reservoir Dogs? one hundred thirty seconds of ads. Just before Psycho? 65 seconds of ads. On Hulu, the ads before videos lasted twenty or 40 seconds. 

If supplied the preference, I would get shorter advert breaks during Television reveals in excess of a shorter advert before a motion picture. The advert advantage goes to Peacock. 

If you want to get an advert-totally free experience Peacock will provide you just one for a $four.ninety nine regular monthly up grade charge, but I are unable to consider quite a few buyers will like Peacock sufficient at this point to in fact spend for it.

Read through additional: Peacock vs. Hulu: Which Television streaming provider is very best for you?

Manage: Blind fast-forward and rewind, reliable voice

Getting all over Peacock was easy, but I desire there was a location to improve my default residence display screen to Browse instead than Trending. I also like fast-forwarding and rewinding improved on Hulu, which lets you use the arrow buttons to skip forward and back while providing thumbnails higher than the timeline to assistance you continue to keep observe of where you are. With Peacock, you aren’t supplied the thumbnails, which helps make it more challenging to navigate to a distinct scene. Peacock blindly fast-forwards and rewinds in 2x, 6x, 12x, 24x, 48x and 96x increments.

The voice perform on the Flex distant operates properly. Push down the microphone button and you can lookup by title, actor, director, genre and so on. Queries get you out of the Peacock app, even so, and pop you in the Xfinity Flex app. When you click on a totally free title from the lookup outcomes website page, you may see a “Play on Peacock” button to open up Peacock and start off observing.


Sure you can find fifteen,000 several hours of content but it seems like you can find nonetheless a great deal of space to expand.

Matt Elliott/CNET

This Peacock is lacking a couple feathers

With the standard deficiency of new content, it’s easy to see why NBCUniversal opted for a gentle start only for Xfinity subscribers. Considering the fact that it won’t cost anything and the advert load is fair, Peacock is truly worth checking out if you are presently an Xfinity buyer — specially if your tastes are likely towards older videos.

With the earth at a standstill that has brought on innumerable delays and cancellations, originals and Olympics coverage will will need to wait around. The silver lining for Peacock? When it launches in July it will nonetheless give a totally free tier to non-Comcast subscribers, and supplied the fiscal tension of the economic downturn it could easily be a hit. If nothing at all else it will be a different reliable totally free streaming solution with a great deal of space to expand.

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