NBCUniversal's Peacock has arrived. After a limited rollout for Comcast customers in April, the new streaming service expanded to everyone across the US on July 15. Similar to HBO Max's launch in May, however, there are plenty of big questions remaining and a number of major features that are still missing nearly a month later.
Here are a few of the most notable ones.
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Where is support for Roku and Amazon?
Like with HBO Max, this is the biggest question for Peacock. Roku and Amazon made up nearly 70% of the streaming devices installed in the US last year, and the fact that people can't watch Law and Order: SVU, Shrek or past NBC hits like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation on their big screens is a problem.
But as is still the case with HBO Max, no end appears in sight for adding Peacock to either platform. Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal's Digital Enterprises, told CNET before launch that while the company "would like to have the app available on all platforms," it was fine with launching without being on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.
"When it comes to Peacock, we've got a very long-term strategy and vision for what we're bringing to market," Strauss said. "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon for us."
When are downloads, user profiles and 4K HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support coming?
When it comes to a streaming service's features, there are a few things people have come to expect in 2020. Individual user profiles and mobile downloads can be found on Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus and Amazon Prime Video. Many streaming services (though not currently HBO Max) also allow for streaming in 4K HDR and with Dolby Vision and Atmos.
Even a month after the nationwide launch, Peacock still has none of those options, though the company said earlier this month that support for multiple user profiles is high on its list of post-launch upgrades. Support for 4K HDR and Atmos are also on the roadmap, but there is no timeline for when exactly they'll be added.
Peacock says that mobile downloads, which will be available to its highest, ad-free Premium tier ($9.99 per month) will be offered "soon," though as with other features, it has yet to specify exactly when that will be.
What new movies are coming?
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max all regularly tout what new content is coming to their respective platforms each month. HBO Max helpfully has "coming soon" and "last chance" tabs to easily track what's coming and going from its service.
Although Peacock launched nationally July 15, a number of major films were already set to leave the platform at the end of the month, including Shrek, The Matrix trilogy and the first three Jurassic Park films.
Each platform has availability windows where shows and movies come and go, so that's not a Peacock-only problem. While it is unclear when those films will return (the Jurassic Park movies have since moved to Netflix), Peacock is getting some reinforcements from studios like Warner Bros. It will add blockbusters such as the Harry Potter films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight over the next few months, all of which are still currently available on HBO Max.
The Harry Potter films will start appearing on Peacock beginning in October.
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How many people will actually pay for Premium?
Peacock has three tiers to choose from:
- Free with ads: The cheapest option gives limited access in what you can watch, as about one-third of shows, movies and Peacock Originals require a Premium plan.
- Premium with ads ($4.99 per month): Access to the full Peacock library, including all shows, movies and originals, though you will still be subject to ads.
- Premium without ads ($9.99 per month): Access to the full Peacock library ad-free, and mobile downloads in the future.
The big question is how many people will actually decide to pay for Peacock. Giving a free tier is an important differentiator from its rivals, and could be the service's "secret weapon" to building a base of users, Michael J. Wolf, chief executive of consulting firm Activate, told CNET.
The free tier "will ensure that Peacock comes out of the gate with a large base of users and will be the service's surest path to scale," Wolf said.
With Peacock shelling out big bucks for rights to popular shows like The Office (which it will start streaming in 2021), as well as producing its own original content, it will be important for the company to also get people to upgrade to Premium.
The last major company to try this type of combination was Hulu, which offered a limited, free-with-ads option in 2015. Like Peacock, Hulu had three tiers (free with ads, paid with ads, paid with no ads) but got rid of the free option in 2016 as it switched focus to developing originals and acquiring more content.