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What is Peacock? The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

NBC Peacock logo.

Peacock is a relatively new streaming service, having launched in July 2020. It’s owned by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. While it may not be as well known as some other streaming services right now, it’s a worthy alternative to consider. If you want to know more about it, keep reading while we answer mostly everything you could ever want to know about NBC’s streaming service.

What is Peacock?

Peacock launched on July 15, 2020. Named after the NBC logo, the service primarily offers shows and movies from NBCUniversal studios as well as some third-party content providers. With a combination of TV shows, films, news, and sports programming, the network has reached 24.5 million monthly active accounts with 9 million paid subscribers on top of that. It’s an idea that has been in the works since 2019 with the streaming service gradually growing in popularity and offering more app support than previously.

Content is typically taken from the NBCUniversal library and also includes shows and movies from the likes of Universal Pictures and Universal Television. NBC has declared it has at least 40,000 hours of content with an additional 20,000 hours of content for Premium subscribers. Current episodes of NBC shows become available on Peacock the day after their premium for Premium subscribers with non-subscribers gaining them a week later. Besides conventional streaming content, Peacock also has a lineup of around 25 curated digital linear channels for people that want to dip into ‘regular’ TV from time to time. They are designed to emulate traditional broadcasting, albeit on a streaming network.

Peacock offers a mixture of original programming and shows you can see elsewhere. For instance, its exclusives include Bel-Air, the reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as well as sci-fi show Brave New World, which premiered in 2020. Shows like Saved by the Bell and MacGruber are possible to watch as part of Peacock with plenty of unscripted content, reality TV, and variety shows like late-night talk shows, The Amber Ruffin Show. Third-party content changes frequently on the service but it’s suitably varied. NBC recently arranged to produce a music competition series similar to the Eurovision Song Contest to complement its existing coverage of the European music show. For sports fans, NBCUniversal has exclusive distribution rights to the WWE Network streaming service. It also carries many Premier League soccer matches, NFL games, and Olympics coverage. For sports fans, it’s arguably the second-best streaming network after ESPN+ thanks to offering so many different options from the Super Bowl to the latest Premier League matches.

Peacock works like most other major streaming services. It offers a series of plans including a free limited service plan. In any case, all you need to do is enter your email address and sign up for an account. From there you can choose to either commit to the free plan or subscribe to the service. There are pros and cons to each plan which we will get into later. Once you have decided, you can sign in via almost any other device. Peacock works through your web browser but there are also multiple different devices to use if you prefer a dedicated solution. There is no need for any special equipment as Peacock works through many popular devices from smart TVs to games consoles, streaming devices, as well as your phone or tablet. It takes moments to set up so there is no need to be tech-savvy before diving in.

How Much is Peacock?

While some streaming services like Disney Plus stick with one subscription plan, Peacock offers three different plans. Each plan is priced differently and offers fairly different features too so it’s important to know what works best for you before you commit. Fortunately, with such flexibility, it shouldn’t be much of an issue to find a good plan for your needs. There’s no Peacock free trial but that’s because it kind of doesn’t need one thanks to its cheapest plan.

That cheapest plan is Peacock’s free plan. Entirely free, all you need to do to watch it is sign up and log in. Because it’s free, there are some limitations, however. Most notably, you will see a series of limited ads so expect to see some commercials amongst what you’re watching. Also, you only get access to about two-thirds of Peacock’s full content library which limits your options. In addition, you’ll need to wait a week to watch new episodes of ongoing NBC shows rather than a mere 24 hours like with the other plans. Don’t count on seeing brand new episodes before they air either which rules out early sessions of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers. Also, content is only available in HD with no 4K support, although this is less of an issue than you would think, as we’ll see shortly. Also, you can’t download anything to view offline. However, it’s free so whatever your views on Peacock, there really isn’t much to lose in signing up for this tier. Even if you don’t use it often, it’s likely to have something you will want to watch from time to time.

The middle range option is Peacock Premium. It costs $5 per month. It has the full wealth of what Peacock has to offer and a fair amount more too. For instance, you can use it to watch all live sports and events including WWE, Olympics coverage (both summer and winter), the Super Bowl, Premier League, and all other sports available through NBC. You also get next-day access to current NBC hits and you can watch Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon early too. Peacock Premium also provides you with 4K resolutions on select content, but it’s incredibly select right now, and potentially isn’t worth considering when upgrading. You will still have to see ads amongst what you’re viewing though, and you can’t download content to watch offline. To avoid adverts and to be able to watch shows and movies offline, you will need Peacock Premium Plus. The service costs $10 per month. It offers everything that Peacock Premium provides you with, including live sports, next-day access to the latest shows, and over 60,000 hours of content too. Signing up for Peacock Premium Plus also adds on the ability to watch select titles offline, avoid adverts, and also watch some shows and movies in 4K.

Whichever plan you choose, you get the same basic profile limit of six per account. Also, in all cases, up to three users can simultaneously watch via the same account at any one time. Although, in the case of the free plan, there is nothing stopping multiple members of the same household from signing up for their own account.

What Devices Support Peacock?

Most major streaming services appreciate that accessibility is everything when it comes to retaining customers. No one wants the ultimate content library limited to just their PC or Mac. After all, few of us use just one device throughout the day anymore. Instead, we’re all often switching between PCs and smartphones, before diving onto a console or tablet in the evenings too. Fortunately, streaming options with Peacock are fairly varied. There is no limit on how many devices can be logged in to Peacock at any one time, giving you plenty of flexibility when using it. Just bear in mind that only three connections can be established simultaneously with the service so only three members of your household can use it at once. That’s a little limited but there’s always the option of signing up to a free plan to make up for it, depending on if the show you’re trying to view is available on there.

When it comes to devices, Peacock offers many different apps for numerous devices. It works on all major browsers including Safari, Edge, Chrome, and Firefox. Whether you’re using a Windows or Mac-based system, you will be able to use it. Alongside that, it also works with pretty much all Android and iOS-based smartphones and tablets, proving flexible during your daily commute. Additional support comes from many TVs and streaming devices. Peacock is supported on most Fire TV and Fire tablet devices. It also works on many Android TV setups including Nvidia Shield. The majority of Apple TVs are also compatible with it, as well as Chromecast.

Other support includes LG Smart TVs, Hisense VIDAA devices, many Rokus, Samsung Smart TVs, and Vizio TVs. Games console support is also expansive with support for the PlayStation 4 and above, as well as the Xbox One and above. Numerous cable provider set-top boxes also offer support including Cox boxes and many Xfinity devices. The only noticeable device missing here is the Nintendo Switch which is a common issue for streaming services and easily circumvented by using something else.

Remember though — Peacock only allows for up to three devices to watch its services simultaneously. That’s the same number as Paramount Plus but it is a little low compared to some competitors, especially if you have a growing household that likes to watch different things at the same time. Having said that, it’s always possible to use an additional free plan subscription so this will only be an issue with certain content or live sports. The ability to create six separate user profiles at least means that everyone within the family can enjoy recommendations based on their previous viewing habits, rather than the recommendation engine being disrupted by other viewing sessions. Premium Plus users can also opt to download shows and movies to watch offline although this capability does not extend to every show available on the service.

What Countries is Peacock Available?

Peacock originally launched in the U.S. on July 15, 2020. Since then, it has slowly expanded to other countries. However, it is not available in as many locations around the world as some other services such as Netflix or Disney Plus. For now, it has a relatively limited reach with plans for further expansion in the works. As of November 2021, it became available in the U.K. and Ireland, albeit not in the same way as conventional streaming services. Rather than signing up separately for the service, users can access Peacock content if they are a Sky TV or Now subscriber. While that requires a commitment to a different service, it has proven easier for some users if they already have a Sky or Now subscription set up as it’s built into the service’s regular user interface. A similar expansion occurred in Austria and Germany in January 2022, with Italy following in February 2022. In all cases, Peacock is accessed via Sky or Now TV.

Peacock has not confirmed launch dates for other countries but there are vague suggestions of release dates. NBC and Comcast have promised that the service will reach Switzerland at some point in early 2022. From there, further expansions will take place in mid-2022 with Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, joining during this time. Current plans are that Australia, France, Asia, and Latin America will also be able to sign up to Peacock in late 2022. However, no specific information has been offered as to which Asian or Latin American countries will be included here. Previously, it has been suggested that when Peacock comes to some countries, it may also launch as a joint streaming force with Paramount Plus, including original programming from both services. Availability will be affected depending on any existing arrangements within respective countries.

If you don’t live in a country where Peacock is currently available, there is hope, however. As with most streaming platforms, it is currently possible to access Peacock through a VPN. By doing so, you circumvent georestrictions enabling you to either check out content from a different country or using it when located somewhere where Peacock is not currently an option. Not all VPNs are capable of circumventing such restrictions but it’s worth checking out which ones will work correctly if you want to try out the service from a country where Peacock isn’t available.

Bear in mind, though, that this is a breach of terms and conditions. In some cases, you may find your account closed or suspended if Peacock detects you are accessing it via a VPN. While signing up for a free plan via a VPN is simple, if you want to sign up for a premium plan, you will need to make sure that you pay via a payment method that works in the country you are browsing. It’s worth considering how currency changes and exchange rates affect prices too.

Can You Watch Peacock in 4K?

It is possible to watch some limited Peacock content in 4K although there are conflicting reports here. Crucially, you’ll need a 4K TV to do so as well as a streaming device that supports 4K (which may be built into your TV). Once you know you have that equipment, you will also need to sign up for one of Peacock’s paid plans. The free service only offers select content in HD while Peacock Premium and Peacock Premium Plus are your only options if you want to watch 4K content. Not a huge amount of Peacock content is available in 4K right now but there are some options for 4K fans.

When it comes to movie content, some users have reported on forums that a very limited selection of movies are available in 4K with Dolby Vision support also included, such as Halloween Kills. In theory, that should be the case when using limited 4K devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV 4K Stick, Apple TV 4K, and 4K TVs with smart functionality built in. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly limited and somehow goes against Peacock’s official line on its support site of saying there is no 4K support. That’s a similar case with sports coverage. While NBC offered a live 4K feed of much of the Winter Olympics, it did not stream that same content in 4K on Peacock. All 2,800 hours of the Winter Olympics coverage was available through Peacock but it was all in HD rather than the superior resolution. It’s a similar story with its Premier League coverage despite 4K feeds existing of the games.

While there is some uncertainty as to whether Peacock truly does offer 4K content or not, it’s best to assume that Peacock is very limited for any kind of 4K support. When it comes to Dolby Atmos audio support, Peacock does not offer the feature. Instead, all shows and movies are solely available in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound instead.

This does not change depending on the devices you use to connect to Peacock. Unlike other streaming services, Peacock has promised that 4K support is on its roadmap but has yet to fully establish the service. If you’re looking for the best picture quality, Peacock is not the streaming service for you. However, if you do want to watch its very limited 4K content, then you will need to sign up for its Premium Plus plan to do so. It’s more likely you will sign up to Premium Plus to avoid adverts and be able to download content to view offline, than bothering to focus on 4K support.

What Movies and Shows are on Peacock?

Peacock may not offer much of its content in 4K if any, but it does have a wealth of content that can appeal to a variety of different tastes. Our look at the best shows on Peacock is a good starting point. It features modern classics like The Office, Superstore, and 30 Rock. Great dramas like Friday Night Lights and Battlestar Galactica are also included to ensure there is something for every taste and mood. Parks and Recreation and Cheers are also on there so you’re sure of some great laughs in particular.

Peacock is also the home of all the Dick Wolf-led shows from the Law and Order franchise so it’s ideal for some comfort viewing with everyone’s favorite series of cops. Shows like Psych are also on there with Monk and Frasier backing things up further. When it comes to current hits, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and Late Night with Seth Meyers feature prominently too, with the latter two airing early on the service’s premium plans so you can enjoy them earlier in the evening.

When it comes to movie content, the best movies on Peacock are pretty great if not entirely expansive. While it’s easy to think of Peacock as predominantly a TV streaming service, its movie range is good. Movies include fun modern comedy classic Bridesmaids with Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Melissa McCarthy. There are also thrill rides like Train to Busan and unsettling horror The Cabin in the Woods, on the service. Award-winning movies such as Moneyball and Being John Malkovich are on there too, so there’s something for every mood and occasion.

Peacock also plans on offering faster access to Universal movies in 2022. Universal will debut most of its new theatrical releases on Peacock just 45 days after they are released in theaters. In the past, this took much longer, so it’s worth signing up to see the latest movies faster. For instance, Halloween Ends and Nope, the next movie from Jordan Peele, are both set to be released this way later this year. There are some exceptions though with the likes of Jurassic Park: Dominion and Minions: The Rise of Gru not hitting the service until four months after their theater release.

Peacock also offers extensive documentary, news, and sports coverage. It’s the home of the Olympics — both Summer and Winter — with over 2,000 hours of Premier League coverage also included. There will also be live streaming of other sporting events such as PGA golf tournaments. Many live sports talk shows are also included within the service, plus it’s the home of the WWE Network’s coverage too. That means over 17,000 hours of WWE content is available through Peacock.

How to Sign Up for Peacock

Peacock is very easy to sign up to as is frequently the way with streaming services. It takes moments to get started and if you want to use the free plan, you don’t even need to enter any payment details. All you need to do is go to https://www.peacocktv.com/ and enter your email address. From there, you are able to choose a plan to sign up to. This is where reading up on the plans is helpful so you know what option is best for you and your household. In all cases, you’ll need to enter details like a password and some basic information about yourself. If you sign up to the Premium or Premium Plus service, you’ll need to also enter payment details and your address to use the plan. Remember to read up on the plans to work out what’s best for you. There’s no harm in signing up for the free service to see what’s available there before deciding if you need to upgrade to a more premium service later on. If you live in a country where Peacock is part of a Sky or Now subscription, you may not need to sign up for it separately. Check to see if you already have access to it.

Unlike many other streaming services, Peacock does not offer a 12-month plan on either of its premium plans. Instead, users simply pay month-by-month. That means there is no discounted offer if you want to commit to longer but it does also mean that you’re not tied in for any longer than a month at a time. Once you have signed up to Peacock, you will need to install the Peacock app on any devices you plan on using with it. While you can choose to use it solely through your web browser, it’s often more practical to use it on your smart TV either directly or via a streaming device. That way, you can experience the movies and shows akin to a regular TV viewing rather than on your computer. Installing the smartphone app is a must if you regularly commute too.

However you plan on watching Peacock, it is possible to add closed captioning or audio descriptions if you need them. To set these up, you typically need to click or tap the speech bubble icon while something is playing. From there, you can click on Subtitles or look under Audio to add audio descriptions to help those with impairments enjoy the show or movie.

In addition, you can also set up parental controls to limit your kids from viewing age-restricted content. To do so, log into your account and tap on the profile picture. Then tap Settings and Parental Controls. From there, you can choose an age restriction that fits your household the best. At the same time, you can set up a parental control PIN so that no one can access age-restricted content without the PIN. The best option is to set up a profile for each child, taking into account their age, while having another profile that allows for adult content.

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