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Peacock TV: How and when to stream Halloween Kills (and it may land early)

Peacock streams a lot free, but if you want to watch Halloween Kills at home at the same time it's in theaters, you'll need to pay.

Angela Lang/CNET

Peacock TV is NBCUniversal's US streaming app, with tens of thousands of hours of free programming, plus more shows, movies, sports and originals if you pay. Only paying Peacock members can access everything on the service -- and that means the paywall is built around Halloween Kills, the new horror-movie sequel that Peacock will stream this week at the same time it's released in theaters. (In fact, Halloween Kills may land on Peacock earlier than expected, see the next section below.) No matter what, you'll need to sign up for a $5-a-month or a $10-a-month premium tier if you want to watch Halloween Kills or any of Peacock's other paywalled programming, like the NFL's Sunday Night FootballPremier League matches, cowboy drama YellowstoneWWE and The Office including new extended episodes with deleted scenes. 

Peacock was one of a flood of new streaming services from tech and media giants that launched over the last year and a half. Competitors include other new services, like Disney PlusApple TV Plus, Paramount Plus (the revamp of CBS All Access) and HBO Max, as well as vets like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

But Peacock is unusual among these rivals in that it has this free tier. It's also unusual among the crop of new services in that it has live sports and news; most of the newest streaming services are focused squarely on video-on-demand entertainment along the lines of Netflix. Other differences: Peacock has "channels" of TV, but these aren't livestreams of its networks. Instead, they're curated feeds of shorter programming or full episodes, organized around themes. 

So is Peacock worth paying for? All the finer details are below, but basically: Thanks to the free tier, it doesn't cost anything to try it out for yourself. But paying for Peacock may be worth it for you if: You need to stream the Notre Dame or NFL Sunday Night Football's games this weekend; if you're a WWE or US-based Premier League superfan; or you really want to watch all of The Office or any of its other paywalled shows or movies. Or, no matter what kind of programming you want to watch, you may want to pay for the top tier if you've been spoiled by Netflix into hating ads. 

What time can I start streaming Halloween Kills on Peacock?

Officially, Halloween Kills -- the latest movie in the Michael Myers horror franchise -- is being released in theaters and on Peacock on Friday. Peacock's social-media accounts are being coy about the exact timing of the release on the streaming service. 

But, based on past precedent, it's possible Halloween Kills may become available to start streaming early, on Thursday afternoon or evening. 

Here's how it happened last time: Boss Baby 2 (officially titled The Boss Baby: Family Business) was the last instance that Peacock streamed a new theatrical movie the same day it hit cinemas. Just like Halloween Kills, Boss Baby 2 was marketed as arriving in theaters and on Peacock on a Friday, in this case July 2. But the movie actually ended up streaming early on Peacock on Thursday afternoon, July 1. 

Halloween Kills may follow the same script. 

Super fans who want to watch at the earliest possible moment can keep an eye on some of the relevant social channels for an update on the movie's availability (here are Peacock TV's Twitter account and the Halloween Kills Twitter account) and just keep checking back on Peacock's app itself Thursday to see if it's live. 

How do I stream Halloween Kills on Peacock? Is it free? 

Halloween Kills is available to stream on either of Peacock's premium, paid tiers once it becomes available Friday (or maybe Thursday, see above). Subscribers to both the $5- and $10-a-month tiers can watch it at no added cost. 

But anyone who watches Peacock on a free membership can't stream Halloween Kills; you'll need to upgrade to a premium account. 

Can I stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock? 

Yes, Peacock will stream NBC's full slate of Sunday Night Football games on either of the paid, premium tiers. (Unlike the Notre Dame game, the NFL Sunday Night Football broadcasts are also available on a ton of other live-channel streaming services because it'll also be on the NBC broadcast network -- that is, normal TV.) 

How much does Peacock cost, and what's free? 

Peacock has three tiers: a limited one that's free, an all-inclusive one that's $5 a month with ads and an all-inclusive one that's $10 a month without ads. 

The free tier limits how much you can watch. For example, Peacock offers only select episodes of its originals free, withholding the rest inside its paywall. Free accounts can watch the first two seasons of The Office but no more. And though many movies are available on this free tier, some -- including Boss Baby 2 -- are blocked unless you upgrade. This limited free tier has access to roughly two-thirds of Peacock's total catalog of movies, current season TV, TV classics, curated daily news, sports, Hispanic programming and curated channels. 

Crucially, almost all of Peacock's live sports are behind the paywall. That means if you want to watch any Premier League matches on Saturday, the Norte Dame college football game on Saturday or the NFL's season opener on Sunday Night Football, you'll need to pay to stream them on Peacock. 

The paid tiers are basically all-access passes to the full catalog on the service. Peacock Premium is $5 a month or $50 a year with advertising, or you can upgrade to Peacock Premium Plus for ad-free viewing at $10 a month or $100 a year (this Premium Plus tier is also the only one that lets you download to watch offline). 

The tiers with advertising are supposed to have no more than five minutes of commercials per hour.

What deals does Peacock offer? 

Some people can score discounts that cut the cost of Peacock if they're already customers of certain cable companies. Peacock gives Comcast X1 and Flex subscribers the paid versions of the service at a $5 discount. So if they want to watch with advertising, they pay nothing for Peacock Premium; if they want to watch ad-free, they need to pay $5 a month for Premium Plus. 

Cox customers also get that $5-off deal. Peacock has said it's working on partnerships to offer this discount to a wider array of consumers. 

In January, NBCUniversal said that it reached a deal with cable company Charter Communications for Spectrum video and broadband customers to get an extended free trial to Peacock. Those offers haven't begun yet. 

The pricing at Peacock's competition runs the gamut. 

Among the services that have ad-supported options, Hulu is $6 a month with ads and $12 a month ad-free. CBS All Access charges $6 for its tier with advertising, and $10 for the ad-free version. 

By comparison, Netflix, which has no ads, offers its cheapest tier at $9 a month, while its most popular plan is $14. Apple TV Plus is $5 a month, Disney Plus is $7 a month, and HBO Max is $15 a month. None of them includes advertising. 

And none of these competitors -- whether with ads or without -- offers a free tier like Peacock's.

Does Peacock offer a free trial? 

Not anymore. 

Peacock previously offered a standard seven-day free trial for new members on either of the paid tiers. But the service quietly eliminated those free trials in late June ahead of Boss Baby 2 being released on the service at the same time it hit theaters. 

What's up with WWE on Peacock? 

Peacock is now the only place to stream the WWE Network. 

On March 18, Peacock began rolling out WWE programming just before Fastlane, the first WWE "pay-per-view" event streaming on Peacock. (All so-called pay-per-view WWE events are available to Peacock premium subscribers at no added cost.)

Any legacy subscribers to the previous WWE Network app and service need to sign up for Peacock to be able to keep watching. The upside to this change is that now WWE Network, including all "pay-per-view" events, will be available on Peacock Premium for $5, or half the price of the WWE Network's old service. Peacock's $10-a-month tier will be able to access all the same WWE programming; the only difference between between being a $5 subscriber and a $10 one is that the priciest tier strips out advertising -- there's no difference in what you get to watch. 

Peacock has a dedicated WWE page to browse and stream all of its WWE programming, and Peacock said it will continually add WWE Network content to the library, making the entire WWE Network archive -- including every WWE, WCW and ECW PPV event in history -- available to stream on demand before SummerSlam on Aug. 21. 

Peacock's paid tiers are also home to all upcoming pay-per-view events and the current seasons of WWE Original shows. 

On the free tier, Peacock will also offer a new WWE "channel"; select WWE Original shows; reality shows like Miz and Mrs., Total Bellas and Total Divas; recent in-ring content; and new weekly episodes of select live shows like RAW Talk and The Bump, both live and on demand.

What devices support Peacock? 

Peacock is available on the web at peacocktv.com, and it's supported on:

  • Apple devices like iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD.
  • Google devices including Android phones and tablets, and Android TV devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices. 
  • Xbox One consoles.
  • Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro consoles.
  • Vizio SmartCast TVs. 
  • LG Smart TVs.
  • Roku devices.
  • Amazon Fire TV

To check the exact models that support Peacock, check the service's support page

What product features does Peacock have? 

  • Up to three devices can stream Peacock simultaneously from a single account. 
  • Peacock won't require accounts to register devices with the service, nor will it limit the number of devices a single account can use to stream. 
  • Peacock won't support high-end formats like 4K resolutionhigh dynamic range and Dolby Atmos sound at launch, but they're on the roadmap to be added. 
  • It won't support profiles yet, a feature that typically allows for various members of a household to keep their viewing and recommendations separate. That feature is also on the roadmap, Peacock said.
  • Parental controls are managed by a PIN.
  • Mobile downloads are available for those who subscribe to its top tier, Premium Plus.
  • The app's user interface will be in English only. The programming on Peacock will support any language audio or subtitles tracks that come with a specific title. At launch, it'll have some content with Spanish language tracks and subtitles. 

What's up with that name? 

Peacock is a nod to NBC's longtime logo and mascot. Strauss said that calling the service Peacock was meant as an homage to NBC, but he stressed that the service is licensing lots of non-NBC content too. 

"We did not call this service NBC Plus. We called it Peacock. In many ways, that was by design," he said. "Pay homage to NBCUniversal but not be limited to just NBCUniversal content." 

At the service's unveiling in January, writer, producer and actress Tina Fey said she originally wanted the title of 30 Rock to be The Peacock. "I was told it was a hard 'no,' and that it would not pass the censors," she said. "And here we are."

When did it launch? When will it expand outside the US?

NBCUniversal first launched a "preview" of Peacock's streaming service April 15, 2020, for Comcast's Xfinity X1 cable customers and its Flex streaming customers. Peacock launched for everyone else in the US in July. 

International expansion will come, Peacock has said, but it hasn't specified a timeline.

What happens to NBC programming on Hulu? 

For now, NBC's shows will keep streaming on Hulu. 

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The Office started streaming on Peacock at the beginning of 2021.

NBC

NBC was a partner in Hulu for years, but NBCUniversal-owner Comcast struck a deal with Disney to give Disney full Hulu control last year. That deal included terms that essentially allow NBC to have programming stream both on Hulu and on Peacock at the same time.

NBCUniversal can start pulling its programming off Hulu starting this year, and by 2022 it has the right (but not the obligation) to cancel most of its content-licensing agreements with Hulu, Variety reported.

"It's too early to tell" whether NBC will want to go that route yet, NBCUniversal Chairman Steve Burke said at the presentation unveiling Peacock in early 2020. 

Shows and movies: What's available to watch on Peacock?

Since Peacock is live with a free tier, the easiest way to get a sense of what's on Peacock is to browse the service itself, although you'll need to register an account with an email address to do so. If you don't want to hand over an email, you can also check third-party sites like Reelgood, which track streaming services' catalogs, to get a sense of what's available to watch. 

Generally speaking, the service's programming leans into NBCUniversal's back catalog and its franchises, but there are a couple of complexities there too. 

Peacock is licensing programming from other companies. A deal with ViacomCBS, for example, gives Peacock past seasons of Yellowstone, a hit summer drama on ViacomCBS' Paramount Network.

Peacock's free tier includes: 

  • Next-day access to current seasons of NBC broadcast shows in their first season, known as freshmen series.
  • Next-week access (i.e., one week after episodes air) to current seasons of returning NBC broadcast shows.
  • Select episodes of marquee Peacock originals (but not full seasons).
  • Curated genre channels, which NBC has characterized as things like SNL Vault, Family Movie Night and Olympic Profiles.
  • Selections of classic series and popular movies.
  • Curated daily news and sports programming, including the Olympics.
  • Spanish-language content.

With the Premium membership, you basically get an all-access pass. It includes everything on the free tier plus: 

  • Full seasons of Peacock originals.
  • Next-day access to current seasons of returning NBC broadcast shows.
  • Early access to NBC's late-night talk shows. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will stream early on Peacock and Late Night with Seth Meyers at 8 p.m. ET -- but this perk will begin only when the shows return to in-studio production.
  • Full access to Peacock's library of shows and movies.
  • Additional sports, like Premier League soccer and the Stanley Cup finals.

Peacock also includes live programming, including the postponed Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Select events from the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics will stream on Peacock on the free tier.

Among other sports you'll be able to watch on Peacock's free tier, the service will have the US Open Championship, Women's Open Championship and an NFL Wild Card Playoff Game. In addition, the free tier will have on-demand replays of events like the Triple Crown horse races, daily highlights from NBC Sports and hundreds of hours of sports series and docs. 

Premium tier sports includes Premier League soccer matches, coverage of elite cycling events like the Tour de France and La Vuelta, and more than 100 hours of WWE content, like WWE Untold, Steve Austin's Broken Skull Sessions and John Cena's Best WrestleMania Matches.

By the end of 2021, NBCUniversal plans to dissolve NBC Sports Network, with some of its programming eventually ending up on Peacock. 

As far as news programming, Peacock will draw from brands like NBC News, Sky News, MSNBC and CNBC. It'll stream same-day broadcasts of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd; live news channels will include NBC News Now, Sky News and NBC/Sky Global News (a new channel); it'll feature clips from Today, CNBC, MSNBC, E! News, NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press; and it'll widen into original content from the Meet the Press franchise, investigative documentaries including full seasons of Dateline and Lock Up, and library documentaries from NBC News and CNBC.

For its originals, the company generally tends to rely on new series from talent with a long track record at NBC, like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. It's also betting on reboots of shows in its catalog with an enduring appeal. It's already announced a revival of Battlestar Galactica (itself a reboot of the 1970s sci-fi series) by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and released reboots of Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell. According to Deadline, NBCUniversal hopes to make a reboot of The Office, which itself was a remake of a British series. 

But not all Peacock's original programming comes straight from NBCUniversal's family tree. Some original titles, like Brave New World, are fresh projects just for Peacock.