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Peacock Free vs Premium: What's the difference?

Peacock is here
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Confirming our expectations, NBCUniversal's Peacock TV streaming service comes in two tiers: Peacock Free and Peacock Premium. Funnily enough, there are really three levels of pricing for the service. Oh, and 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. 

Hulu ($4.99) and Disney Plus ($6.99) are a bit pricier, 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?

Peacock Free vs Peacock Premium features comparison

Peacock FreePeacock PremiumAd-free Peacock Premium
PriceFree$4.99$9.99
Price for Comcast and Cox 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"Movies, classic shows, news + earlier windowed content, "premium movies"

Peacock Free vs Peacock Premium pricing

Peacock free vs premium pricing

(Image credit: Peacock NBCU)

The pitch for Peacock is a simple one, borrowed from Sam Cooke: "The best things in life are free." 

NBCUniversal is attacking the streaming market with a quite traditional idea: Peacock Free provides advertising-supported streaming content, including news and sports, at no cost.

Except it's not that simple. 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 option. 

How to get Peacock Premium for free

Leveraging its corporate synergy, NBCU is giving the $4.99 Peacock Premium package to existing Comcast and Cox cable and internet subscribers for free. Those subscribers will need 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.

Peacock Free vs Peacock Premium content: What do you get?

This is pretty simple. Peacock Free will start with more than 7,500 hours of programming, which may sound like a lot, but it's only half of what you get with Peacock Premium, which will boast more than 15,000 hours of content. 

Peacock Free vs Peacock Premium shows and movies 

Aldrich Eidenreich in Peacock's Brave New World

(Image credit: NBCU Peacock)

Both tiers get selected current shows that air on networks associated with Peacock (such as NBC), movies from the Universal back catalog and classic older shows, including The Office, Parks and Recreation, Cheers and the Law & Order library. Peacock Free also includes news and sports content.

While Peacock Free will get some episodes from Peacock Original shows, only paying for Peacock Premium unlocks all of the service's big-name shows. Those titles include Brave New World, Intelligence, the (second) Battlestar Galactica reboot and even a show based on the Saturday Night Live character MacGruber.

Peacock Premium, in July, will stream The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 8 p.m. Eastern and Late Night with Seth Meyers at 9 p.m. Eastern, hours before they air on the NBC TV network. Premium members also get earlier access to broadcast series, with episodes arriving the day after they first air, just as 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 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.