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Peacock won't have mobile downloads to binge offline at launch next week

Peacock launches Wednesday, but downloads won't come until later this year. 4K and user profiles won't be available at launch, either.

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Peacock will launch in the US on Wednesday. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Peacock, the upcoming streaming service from Comcast's NBCUniversal, won't offer downloads of its shows and movies to watch offline on your mobile device when it launches Wednesday in the US, the service said. When downloads as a feature arrive "soon," Peacock added, they'll be for people paying for the priciest tier. 

At launch, the service also will lack high-quality formats like 4K resolutionhigh dynamic range and Dolby Atmos sound. The service likewise won't offer at launch the user profiles that can separate the viewing habits and recommendations of household members who share the same account. 

Downloads are a popular feature on video-streaming services, allowing people to store programming to watch when they don't have an internet connection or as a way to protect their data caps by loading up data-gobbling video on Wi-Fi rather than on their mobile carrier's network. Netflix, the industry leader with more than 182 million subscribers, has offered downloads for years. Other new services rolling out during the so-called streaming wars have launched with download support. Disney PlusHBO Max and Quibi all offer downloads. 

But downloads aren't ubiquitous, and many services have gone years without them. Hulu, which has been streaming for 12 years, lacked mobile downloads until October. HBO Go, the streaming app for people who pay for HBO through a regular pay-TV service, never supported mobile downloads. The HBO Go app was effectively replaced by HBO Now when it launched (with download support) in late May.

Streaming has grown more popular than ever during the coronavirus pandemic. But with people spending more time entertaining themselves at home during lockdown, the demand for downloads as a feature may be lower than normal. 

Peacock launches Wednesday in the US with a seven-day free trial for its premium tiers, as well as 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 content. Popular programming set to stream at launch includes Jurassic Park, the Bourne movie franchise, The Matrix, Battlestar Galactica, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, Downton Abbey and Law & Order.