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Peacock on Roku: Why it's not there on launch day

peacock on roku: why it's not there
(Image credit: Comcast/NBC)

Uh oh: nobody can watch Peacock on Roku. Yes, while today (July 15) marks the debut of NBC's Peacock TV service, it arrived with a familiar problem: it's not on some of the best streaming devices.

That's because it seems like NBC's new streaming service is just like HBO Max, in that it's not on either Roku or Fire TV hardware -- two of the most popular streaming device platforms in the U.S..

While other platforms exist, a streaming service is fighting against the winds if they try and launch without Roku and Amazon Fire TV support. As of last year, Roku has 39% of the US streaming device market, while Amazon Fire TV has 30%. That means Peacock would be unable to stream on 69% of the streaming devices in the country.

In an interview with CNET, Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal's Digital Enterprises downplayed the potential lack of Roku and Fire apps, saying ""We're in discussions with everybody ... we would like to have the app available on all platforms, but we're committed to launching on the date that we set forth."

Why there's no Peacock on Roku or Fire TV

The Motley Fool highlights two big reasons for why these new streaming services aren't on the biggest platforms. The first stick in the ground is the user data. Peacock and HBO Max's parent companies AT&T and Comcast want complete control, but Roku and Amazon don't want to let these new services onto their platform without getting something back. 

Secondly, we have the ads. Peacock has ads on its two cheaper tiers, but not that many -- only 3 to 5 minutes per hour -- and if Roku and Amazon were to run ads in those apps (they already do in many streaming service apps), it would drastically cut down how much Peacock is making.

When Disney Plus launched last winter, we knew about Roku support months before, as early as an August 2019 email to the press.

By contrast, when HBO Max launched in late May, there was hope that Roku and WarnerMedia could broker a last-second pact to get the new service on Roku at the start, but that didn't happen, and more than a month later, HBO's new service is still not on Roku. It's also not on Amazon Fire TV devices, either. That means HBO Max can only reach 31% of streaming players in the U.S., and Peacock could be slowly walking towards that same challenge. 

For our Peacock review during its early launch period (where it's free for Comcast customers with certain hardware) we tested it on the Xfinity Flex. While we liked the service's massive library of content, we also noted its lack of originals (it will launch with some, including an adaptation of Brave New World). 

Here's the full list of supported Peacock devices:

Peacock supported devices

  • Android
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD
  • Chromecast 
  • Comcast Xfinity X1
  • Comcast Xfinity Flex
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • iPod touch
  • LG Smart TVs
  • Sony PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One S and Xbox One X
  • Vizio SmartCast TVs

Since Peacock is having not one but two launches—a soft launch for Xfinity customers, and a wider rollout for everyone else—you'd assume that NBCU would have wanted to make things perfect for its second launch (Narrator's Voice: It didn't). Those who have been using the service for free on Xfinity devices have been the public beta testers for Peacock, and all that's left is to add the new exclusive shows and make sure everyone can stream it.

For everyone's sake — from streamers to the providers and even the advertisers taking advantage of the Peacock Free tier — we hope these gaps in supported devices are paved over, and soon.