Now that Peacock TV is here, we've finally found out more detail about the ad-free $10 per month Peacock Premium tier. Now dubbed Peacock Premium Plus, it was marketed as the great ad-free tier, and worth spending an extra $5 per month to get, as opposed to the $5 per month Peacock Premium, which has 3-5 minutes of ads per hour. Turns out that's not exactly true.
This morning, when I went to sign up for Peacock Premium to test it out for myself, I noticed an asterisk lodged inside of the marketing language "Everything in Premium, without the ads*." So I scrolled down.
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"*Due to streaming rights," it reads, "a small amount of programming will still contain ads (Peacock channels, events and a few shows and movies)." What does that mean? Well, it reminds me of how certain TV shows will air "with limited commercial interruption," which is often presented as a treat for audiences.
That's neither a treat nor ad-free. That's you paying twice as much to get something, with rare exceptions to the rule. It's the status quo of TV viewing being reinforced, which isn't surprising when you think about how Peacock is owned by NBCUniversal.
But as frustrating as it is, it's not exactly surprising or new.
Peacock's not the only offender
This is a lot like the "ad-free" Hulu tier, which has its own asterisk that reads "*The Hulu (No Ads) plans exclude a few shows from our streaming library that will play with an ad before and after the video." It's an annoying exception that's always left me with a little less want to sign up for Hulu.
YouTube Premium was the kind of ad-free experience I prefer... until it wasn't. YouTube puts zero ads of its own in the videos, but when you dig down to the fine print of YouTube Premium benefits, you see that creators can embed "branding or promotions" in the content, such as when the Bingeing with Babish cooking program plugs Squarespace briefly before the start of a show.
I'm less irked when I see those ad spots on YouTube Premium, though, because they mostly involve independent creators trying to firm up their revenue streams. Not massive corporations playing the same old same old, hamstrung to the same exceptions that made people want to cut the cord in the first place.