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Peacock, Roku reach deal to add streaming service app to TV devices

Two months after its nationwide launch in July, NBCUniversal's free service makes its way to Roku's popular streaming platform.

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Peacock launched nationally in the US on July 15. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Peacock, the free streaming service from Comcast's NBCUniversal that launched on July 15, is finally coming to Roku. After news broke that NBCUniversal's other apps on Roku were going to be removed from the streaming platform on Friday, the two sides were able to finally reach a deal. As part of the deal, those apps -- which include the main NBC app -- will remain on Roku and will be joined by a new app for the Peacock streaming service in the coming weeks.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Comcast that will bring Peacock to Roku customers and maintains access to NBCU's TV Everywhere apps," said a Roku spokesperson in a statement. "We look forward to offering these new options to consumers under an expanded, mutually beneficial relationship between our companies that includes adding NBC content to The Roku Channel and a meaningful partnership around advertising."

An NBCUniversal statement reads in part: "We are pleased Roku recognizes the value in making NBCUniversal's incredible family of apps and programming, including Peacock. Roku's incredible reach will not only help us ensure Peacock is available to our fans wherever they consume video but continue to expand NBCUniversal's unrivaled digital presence across platforms."

The kind words follow a day of public back-and-forth claims made by the two companies. Earlier on Friday afternoon a person familiar with NBCUniversal's thinking told CNET that Roku and Comcast had handshake agreements in place prior to their most recent public tiff, blaming late changes by Roku for the deals not being signed. In a statement, Roku denied that any deals were agreed to between the companies, saying that the ability for it to offer ads in Peacock remained at issue. 

The company did add that it was "committed finding a win-win deal and are confident we can help Comcast make the transition to streaming by making Peacock a success," perhaps hinting that the two sides were starting to mend fences. 

Peacock is still not available on Amazon's Fire TV platform. 

Streaming has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, and Roku and Amazon Fire TV products are the most popular ways to stream on televisions in the US. Together, the two companies' streaming devices and smart TVs make up 70% of all the streaming devices installed in the US last year, and they reach roughly 80 million active users between them. 

But rather than serving as neutral platforms for apps, Roku and Amazon both have become more assertive in their talks with new streaming services lately, and media companies are more invested in reaping the most reward possible from their products, leading to impasses. HBO Max, for example, is still missing from both Roku and Fire TV several months after its May launch, although perhaps the new Roku/Peacock deal will help solve that deal as well.

Peacock is already available on a bevy of streaming TV devices, like Apple TV, Google's Android TV and Chromecast, Microsoft's Xbox One, Sony's PlayStation 4, among others. The Peacock app is also available  Vizio's SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs, and the service will be available on mobile devices, too. 

Competing with the likes of NetflixDisney PlusHBO Max and others, Peacock is the last big new service to roll out in the so-called "streaming wars," when a flood of services spilled out from tech and media giants over a roughly seven-month period. In the case of Peacock, it means even a traditional TV and cable company like Comcast is betting that the tide of cord-cutting won't turn. 

These competitive battles will shape the fate of companies vying to rule television's future, but they'll also affect how many services you have to use and pay for to watch your favorite TV and movies

Unlike its streaming service rivals, Peacock offers an always-free tier that lets you sample about half its library with advertising. Peacock Premium, which unlocks the full catalog, is $5 a month or $50 a year with advertising, or you can upgrade to an ad-free version for $10 a month or $100 a year. 

The library has about 20,000 hours of shows, movies, news, sports, skit-style clips and exclusive big-budget original programming. Popular programming includes films like Trolls World Tour, Ted, E.T., Beetlejuice and Zombieland as well as reruns of a host of NBC shows such as Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live and Law & Order.

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