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Peacock review: Worth the $4.99

The Peacock streaming service is getting better

The Peacock app on the Apple TV home screen
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, is good, but not must-see for all (yet). Its strong movies and live events offerings are helping.

Pros

  • +

    The home of The Office and other NBC shows

  • +

    Some great originals

  • +

    Olympics and Premier League sports

  • +

    Exclusive home of WWE live events content

Cons

  • -

    Still waiting for its big hit

  • -

    Navigation on Channels page can be wonky

Peacock TV was a marquee name in the new class of streaming services last year, and over time it added enough interesting and exclusive content to earn a spot on our best streaming services list. 

While that's not to say Peacock is perfect, we're definitely at a point where many people now don't even think about canceling their Peacock subscriptions. This Peacock review will explain why that is, from Peacock's wide range of live events (both sport and pseudo-sport) to its occasional SNL streams, exclusive originals and solid back catalogue of films. Oh, and it has live news, too.

We'll also go over how Peacock could improve as it looks to stay important in 2022.

Peacock review: Price and availability

To save on your subscription, take a look at our Peacock TV promo codes page. Peacock is available in three tiers, and while its pricing should be simple, it's a little confusing.  

Peacock specs

Price: Free | $4.99 | $9.99
Available: U.S. and certain U.S. territories
Movies:
910*
TV Shows: 345*
*On Peacock Premium as per JustWatch (opens in new tab), as of Jan. 13, 2022

There's the unsurprisingly free Peacock Free (opens in new tab), the $4.99 per month Peacock Premium (opens in new tab) and the $9.99 per month ad-free Peacock Premium Plus (opens in new tab)

Unfortunately, there's a big old caveat for Peacock Premium Plus: it isn't completely ad-free. In Peacock's (opens in new tab) own words, "channels, live events, and some shows will still have ads."

Certain folks, including Xfinity Flex customers and Xfinity X1 owners, will get Peacock Premium for free. 

Peacock review: Interface

If you've seen most modern streaming services, you won't be surprised by Peacock’s interface. You've got sections for Movies and TV at the top, a home page called Featured, the My Stuff section for things you've favorited, and two other sections. Peacock, much like Paramount Plus, stands out by offering sports (which has its own section). This contains live events, documentaries and sports-based TV shows. There's also the WWE on Peacock section, because Peacock became the exclusive U.S. distributor of the WWE Network, which presents Vince McMahon's sports entertainment live events and back catalogue.

The Peacock app online

(Image credit: Peacock)

Featured

The home page is fairly simple: you've got a carousel of promoted content, and below that a Continue Watching section for things you didn't finish. Unfortunately, you can't remove content from that list (a problem that other streaming services, such as Netflix and HBO Max, have faced and fixed). 

Then, you've got a row of more promoted items (Peacock Picks) and then a "just added" section to remind you that Peacock isn't a static collection. Below that, you've got more and more rows of thematically grouped content. At the very bottom, as if you've run out of content, there's a Coming Soon row where you can preview what's up next.

Channels

One of the unique parts of Peacock is its Channels section, which apes traditional cable with a series of linear and sometimes live sets of networks and collected content. While you start out with NBC News Now, a channel for MSNBC's daily content and NBC Sports, a lot of the other content is collections of previously aired programming (including Below Deck, In It To Win It and Todd Chrisley-based content), giving you another way to "browse" the Peacock library. The live news is similar to what Paramount Plus gives you with CBS News and the rest feels like a sometimes-better version of the content you get on Pluto TV.

Frustratingly, I've found that the Channels section can be difficult to click around and navigate on even some of the best streaming devices (including the Apple TV 4K). Trying to navigate from live content to the grid-based guide doesn't always go too well.

The Peacock app tuned to NBC News

(Image credit: Future)

The SNL Channel, Seth Meyers and The Office Channel don’t show full episodes, but rather clips and sketches from various seasons. For instance, once when I was watching the SNL Channel, it went from an '80s-era Eddie Murphy sketch to one with Adam Driver in a Del Taco audition. A few minutes later, it was showing Alec Baldwin’s Schwetty Balls sketch. 

By not airing full episodes of SNL, Peacock presents a good way to avoid those late-in-the-show duds. But I wish the sketches were organized, rather than just being aired randomly. 

At the moment, these “live” channels don’t support pausing, fast-forward, or rewind, but Comcast is planning to add these features, as well as playlists and skipping ahead or back between shows in a channel. 

The Peacock app online

(Image credit: Peacock)

Movies and TV Shows

In each of these sections, you get what you'd expect: the recent releases that Peacock is promoting above groups of thematically similar content. At the very bottom, you've got A-Z sections. This situation isn't great or bad, just "typical." 

I just wish Peacock presented the A-Z sections in a grid (as Paramount Plus does) and not a row. A row of four tiles that has all of the movies and shows in a service takes a long time to navigate.

Peacock review: TV Shows

For a while, Peacock's strength was primarily based on its collections of certain pillars of the NBC library. It's got The Office, Parks and Recreation, Cheers, a ton of Law & Order and 30 Rock (also on Netflix right now). Sometimes, Peacock offers live episodes of SNL, but it's not always going to happen.

But poking around you'll find a lot of stuff you may not associate with NBC. Those include Downton Abbey, the medical procedural House starring Hugh Laurie that aired on Fox, the USA Network's Monk and ABC's Modern Family. 

The Peacock app online

(Image credit: Peacock)

And on top of that, Peacock has some truly coveted shows, such as Yellowstone. Yes, for some reason you need Peacock (and not Paramount Plus) to watch Yellowstone, a series that airs on the Paramount Network. Peacock's also got reality TV on tap, with editions of Bad Girls Club, Real Housewives and other hits.

In terms of new content, Peacock's been getting new episodes of This Is Us, New Amsterdam, Grand Crew, Keenan and Young Rock, close to when they air.

As for exclusive originals, often the major reason why people subscribe to services, Peacock has had some well-liked shows, such as Girls5Eva (which convinced a TG staffer to shell out money for Peacock) and the new Saved By The Bell revival. Still, though, Peacock is light on the big new hits, and still looking for its Stranger Things, or to a lesser extent its Ted Lasso. 

Peacock review: Movies

There is a seemingly ever-growing depth to the films library inside of Peacock. Opening the app right now, I can see plenty of movies I love and would watch, including Snowpiercer, Winter's Bone (starring Jennifer Lawrence), The Replacements (starring Keanu Reeves), the modern action classic Bad Boys II, Good Will Hunting, Goodfellas and Lost In Translation.

Peacock also knows there's money in collections of movies. So it's got the Harry Potter films and The Matrix movies (save for Resurrections). It's also got some of the Scream movies, as well as the Fifty Shades and Karate Kid films, which are odd to see side by side.

(Image credit: Future)

Peacock doesn't have the kind of new original exclusive films that Netflix has, though. But considering its lower price, we're not shocked.

Peacock review: Supported devices

After a rocky start, Peacock finally became ubiquitous. It took a while for a Peacock Roku app and even longer for a Peacock Fire TV app to show up.

Here is the full list of Peacock's supported devices:

Peacock review: Sports and WWE

The Peacock app online

(Image credit: Peacock)

Peacock stands out with sports, and that includes everything from rugby to supercross, and it's even got Premier League live streams and NFL live streams. Heck, it's even going to be one of the homes of Super Bowl 2022. Peacock will soon host the 2022 Winter Olympics, which comes after its run hosting select Tokyo Olympics events including the Team USA Men's Basketball games. It even livened things up with an interesting series called Peacock's Tokyo Tonight.

And in addition to sports, Peacock has something called sports entertainment, the term that Vince McMahon's WWE branded itself as. Yes, it's not pro wrestling to them. While Peacock's acquisition of the WWE Network proved to be a rocky affair, things have more or less normalized. Almost forgotten are the days when the Comcast-owned service decided which of WWE's less appropriate moments were fit to stream, and stream reliability issues. Instead, WWE fans in the U.S. get to save on the $4.99 per month Peacock as opposed to the $9.99 WWE Network. Ardent WWE fans will tell you, though, that Peacock is terrible for finding specific old matches and navigating a PPV. It also organizes decades of WWE events such as WrestleMania by "seasons," where each year's edition is its own season. It's unfinished, to say the least, but it's all fans have without resorting to a VPN to use the WWE Network in another country.

Peacock review: Bottom line

Thanks to its enormous catalog of important TV shows such as Law & Order and The Office (and its exclusivity deal with WWE) Peacock is a must for some folks. It's similar to how Disney Plus is the place you go for Marvel, Disney and Pixar.

This Peacock review shows that while the service is still young, it is working on filling itself with must-stream TV and more. But while a big hit still eludes Peacock, its lower-than-Netflix price, vault and live content make for a compelling lineup (to at least some, if not many).

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior 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.

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    Took a look at it last nght on my Flex box after Comcast finally greenlit it.

    tl;dr if you want to watch old NBC shows a lot, I guess its okay. The movies were mostly old crap. The UI wasn't at all intuitive. The one thing I went to watch threw commercials at me. I ended up watching a movie on Netflix. Unless I want to catch up on shows I haven't watched from 10 years ago, free is the right price. If they think people will pay $10 for the commercial free version...well...good luck with that.

    Way, way too many streaming services with their own little stovepipes. I can't see them all surviving at $5-10-15 a pop. With various deals I pay $17 a month for Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Starz. Only Hulu has ads, and not on their movies. Why on Gods green earth would I pay $5 or $10 for a fraction of the content?
    Reply