By Kaylee Brewster
The phrase “you get what you pay for” is the best way to describe NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock.
Named after the iconic logo, NBCUniversal (a subsidiary of Comcast) has lots to offer, from classic TV and movies from the vaults of NBC and Universal Studios, to new original programing, live sports (once they return, that is), news and next-day availability of TV and late night shows.
But, how much of that content is available depends on how much you are willing to pay.
The best part about Peacock is that it’s free, which sounds pretty good to me with Disney, HBO and other streaming services fighting over my dwindling dollars. Peacock can afford it because the free option is paid for by advertising (like traditional TV). Payment tiers grant access to additional content. If you want more, you can easily upgrade your plan to $4.99 a month, with ads (Peacock premium), or ad-free (Peacock premium plus) for $9.99.
However, the free option comes at a cost. Content is very limited. Not all seasons of TV shows are available and those offerings can vary over time.
For example, when I first got Peacock, only four seasons of one of my favorite shows, “30 Rock,” were available for free. However, as I watched I discovered I could view all seven seasons, at least on my phone, while the website showed only six seasons available.
I have no idea why or how additional seasons became available, nor why there is a discrepancy between my phone and the website. It could be technical bugs or, like a video game, I have unlocked more seasons with my viewing habits. Either way, I’ll take the additional content and won’t ask questions.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of Peacock, at least for me, is that it does not seem to pair well with all streaming devices. I have a Roku for streaming on my TV but Peacock is not available on Roku (at least, not yet). That means my options for watching are on my 6-year-old computer with terrible sound or my 5-inch phone.
There is a possibility that all this could change as NBCUniversal contracts with Roku. (There is also no deal with Amazon Fire TV devices, so if you use that platform, you’re in the same boat as me.) If the technology changes, it would increase the chances I would use Peacock more but, for now, it’s not the ideal situation.
The main reason I got Peacock was to watch “30 Rock,” which I haven’t seen since it left Netflix in 2017. Because of that, I haven’t closely examined other offerings on the service. A quick glance shows TV shows like “Frasier,” “Downton Abbey,”“This is Us,” “House,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Psych,” “Saved By the Bell,” “Columbo,” “The Munsters,” “Cheers,” “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Johnny Carson.” Some of the movies listed are “Shrek,” the “The Bourne Identity” series, “The Mummy,” “Jurassic Park,” Hitchcock classics including “Rear Window,” “Vertigo,” “Psycho” and “The Birds;” and Universal monster movies from the 1930s like “Dracula,” “Frankenstein” and “The Invisible Man.” All these are more than worth the zero dollar fee.
I use the app mostly on my phone and it’s not that easy to navigate, and that’s coming from a millennial. Unless you know exactly what you are looking for and what category it is under, content is hard to find.
There is an option for a watchlist where you can add shows and movies but it took me two days to find that (under browse, next to continue watching). The website is easier to navigate than the app, so I would start there. This is how I ended up finding the watchlist. The app clearly has some bugs to work out. For instance, the continue watching option sometimes mysteriously disappears.
There are a few other features that make the app worth loading, such as a channel view with categories like news, true crime and reality TV to allow viewers to watch by genre. Peacock also offers live sports and early viewings of late night TV, like “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and “Saturday Night Live.” However, with the coronavirus canceling sporting events and “Saturday Night Live” on hiatus, I’m still unsure if those are available for free or if those would only be available to paid subscribers.
While Peacock has some worthwhile content, and worthy features I may not have discovered yet, I will be using it minimally until the technology is upgraded to play on my TV and app glitches are fixed. If an easier way to stream becomes available, it would definitely be worth keeping and maybe even upgrading to a paid tier for more content.
If you’re like me — mostly satisfied with the streaming services you have and not interested in paying for more –Peacock might not be worth your time, unless it has something you have to watch.