NBC Peacock Free vs Premium: What's the difference?

NBC Peacock TV
(Image credit: Comcast/NBC)

The NBC Peacock TV streaming service is here, and soon it will be available in not one but two tiers: Peacock Free and Premium. 

Except that there's a little more complexity than even that suggests. There's also Peacock Premium without ads -- plus, some people will get Peacock Premium for free. 

Confused? You're not alone. Peacock is launching in an increasingly complicated world of streaming services, but it's going to get attention for being the only major service to have a free option (Pluto TV, though, has been pulling people in with free streams for a while).

Hulu ($5.99) and Disney Plus ($6.99) are the cheapest premium options, and Apple TV Plus is free only when you buy a new device you can watch it on.

So let's unpack why you might want to get Peacock Premium. What's up with its $9.99 price tier? And how many more Peacock shows and movies do you get when you pay more?

NBC Peacock Free vs Premium: Specs at a glance

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Peacock FreePeacock PremiumPeacock Premium Plus
Price for Comcast subscribersFreeFree$5.00
Ads5 minutes per hour5 minutes per hourNo ads
ContentMore than 7,500 hoursMore than 15,000 hoursMore than 15,000 hours
ShowsSelect active NBCU seasons, some Peacock original episodesFull seasons of Peacock originals and current season showsFull seasons of Peacock originals and current season shows
Other contentMovies, classic shows, newsMovies, classic shows, news + earlier windowed content, "premium movies" and early access to late night TVMovies, classic shows, news + earlier windowed content, "premium movies" and early access to late night TV

NBC Peacock Free vs Premium: Pricing

NBC Peacock Free vs Premium pricing

(Image credit: Peacock NBCU)

As our budgets get tighter — just like the competition to be the top streaming service — Peacock has an appeal that makes sense: it's free to start.

Peacock Free streams out ad-supported content from the NBC library, plus news and sports, at no cost. You know, just like how people use the best TV antennas to grab broadcast TV networks out of thin air. 

Then, there is Peacock Premium, which is $4.99 per month, will deliver more content plus original programming. This includes more sports than you get in the main package. 

But you'll still see ads. At a recent event for Peacock investors, NBCU said there will be 5 minutes of ads per hour, which they said will be an industry low.

If you can afford to spend more, you can pay an extra $5 to remove all ads with the $9.99 per month Peacock Premium Plus option. This is how to get Peacock with live TV from your local NBC channel.

Leveraging its corporate synergy, NBCU is giving the $4.99 Peacock Premium package to existing Comcast cable and internet subscribers for free. Those subscribers will also get an option to spend only $5 per month to remove ads. 

Xfinity customers will be able to stream Peacock though the Xfinity's own streaming devices, though we found in our Xfinity Flex review, the box offers few other streaming services compared to the best streaming devices.

NBC Peacock Free vs Premium: Shows and movies 

Aldrich Eidenreich in Peacock's Brave New World

(Image credit: NBCU Peacock)

You get what you pay for. Peacock Free starts with more than 7,500 hours of content, and that's only half of what the folks with Peacock Premium are getting, as the higher-end version is to boast more than 15,000 hours of content. 

Free also includes select series currently airing on NBC and other networks associated with Peacock. You'll also get movies from the Universal back catalog, and classic older shows, including The Office, Parks and Recreation, Cheers and the Law & Order library. Peacock Free will also include some news and sports content.

People will pay for Peacock Premium to unlock all the entire catalogue of originals and big-name shows that Comcast calls "tentpole" series. Those titles include Brave New World, Intelligence, the (second) Battlestar Galactica reboot and even a show based on the Saturday Night Live character MacGruber.

The only issue is that Peacock won't have that many originals at launch. Its April launch exclusives and originals are limited to new episodes of kids shows Curious George, Where’s Waldo? and Cleopatra in Space, while its July launch is on board for Brave New World and the Psych movie. More could come soon, but it's unknown.

Peacock Premium also gives subscribers early access to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers, both coming to Peacock 3.5 hours before hours before they air on NBC. 

Premium also delivers faster access to current shows, with episodes dropping the day after their original airing, just like on Hulu.

Peacock Free and Premium will both stream movies, but Peacock Premium will get a tier of "premium" films.

Peacock Free vs Premium sports: Big for footie fans

Peacock Free is not going to be the place for all of the sports action, which will be a big deal for some, at least once sports leagues start packing stadiums or broadcasting again.

Peacock Premium members get extra sports content, and English Premier League soccer, for which NBCU has the U.S. broadcast rights, is the top-billed entry in that list. 

Peacock Free vs Premium outlook

April's launch will give Peacock Premium to Comcast subscribers, but once people get the option to choose between Peacock Free vs Peacock Premium, it looks like it will be hard (at first) to convince people to pony up.

Those super excited for Brave New World or the continuation of Psych may disagree, but unless those shows become national conversations, many will likely stick with Peacock Free. The same is true for the earlier access to late night variety shows, which will appeal to a certain fanbase, but I don't know how impatient people are for these shows.

For now, Peacock's best bet looks to be the ad-supported tier, where people can binge their favorite shows all they want. 

Make sure you browse our Peacock TV promo codes page to find the latest discounts and offers. 

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.