Peacock, a streaming app from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, launched Wednesday across the US with thousands of hours of free programming, as well as more shows, movies and originals if you're willing to pay for a subscription. It offers a seven-day free trial standard for those premium tiers, but if you sign up through a Google platform like Android, you can get as many as three months free.
But like with HBO Max, you can't watch Peacock on a device such as its Firestick. Combined, Roku and Amazon are the most popular makers of devices to stream to televisions in the US.
This standoff marks a new stage in the evolution of streaming video, one that puts people like you in the middle. Both sides want the most control over the data and money you generate with your streaming activity, as they carve out their positions of power for the next era of TV.
In the meantime, this means you can't watch all the top streaming services on all the top devices.
Peacock's rollout on Android was rocky, too. For most of Peacock's launch day, the Peacock Android app wasn't showing up in search results on the Google Play Store, even though the app had published to the store overnight. (The Peacock app was available without a hitch for Apple streaming devices like the iPhone in the App Store, where it was heavily promoted.)
The Android app snafu complicated a major Peacock discount offered through Google: If you sign up for Peacock on an Android phone or any other Google-based device, you'll unlock an extended free trial for the service's $4.99-a-month paid tier, lasting as long as 90 days. Peacock's premium tiers -- one with ads for a lower price, another ad-free for a higher price -- unlock the service's full library. Google's deal gets you the cheaper, ad-supported tier free.
You can still qualify for that deal by signing up for Peacock on an Android or Android TV device. Once you register an email address to open your Peacock account, the service will send you an email with a promo code to unlock the extended trial period. You have until about Oct. 15 to sign up through Google to unlock a longer free trial, but how long the free period lasts will shrink the longer you wait. (More details on the deal are in the costs section below.)
The final launch day twist: Several high-profile movies on Peacock -- like the Matrix trilogy, the Jurassic Park trilogy, Shrek and the only Fast & Furious movie available -- were already set to disappear from the service soon. A countdown warning shows how long some titles are set to remain on Peacock, and Jurassic Park movies, Matrix films and Shrek, as well as others, are listed as expiring at the end of the month. Fast & Furious, from 2009, was already gone one day after launch.
Peacock said that it's common for films to come and go on streaming services and that these titles should be be back again soon, without providing any specific dates.
Oddly, the countdown timers appear in the app on some kinds of devices but not all. They're visible in the iOS app but not on Apple TV. You can see them if you're browsing Peacock on the web but not on the Android app. Peacock said the countdown indicators would be added to its apps across devices soon.
Competing with the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max and others, Peacock is the last big new service going live in the flood of launches from tech and media giants over the last year. Technically, Peacock launched months ago in a limited "sneak peek" on April 15 for some Comcast customers. But the nationwide launch on Wednesday widens the service to anyone in the US who wants to watch it, and Peacock's first original shows and movies dropped then too.
Peacock's free tier, with about two-thirds of the catalog, is available to watch right away with advertising after you register an email and password. You can unlock the full library of shows and movies for a price -- $4.99 a month for the full catalog plus ads and $9.99 a month to go ad-free. Peacock offers a standard seven-day free trial for its premium tiers, and, again, people who sign up on a Google platform like Android can snag an extended free trial.
Read more: Hulu vs. Peacock: Which streaming service is best for you?
Peacock is also working on deals, like ones it already has with parent company Comcast and with Cox Communications, to bundle Peacock Premium with regular cable services as a no-added-cost perk. But up through launch, Peacock hadn't secured many more of these deals to widen the premium perks. (Full details on deals, free trials and discounts for Peacock are below.)
Peacock's free tier has popular TV shows like Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock, as well as movies like the Matrix trilogy, three of the Bourne movies, Jurassic Park and more, many of them coming from Comcast's Universal and DreamWorks Animation studios. Having 30 Rock available to stream is handy, given that NBC will run a one-hour reunion special of the award-winning comedy Thursday. But one of Peacock's most anticipated titles, The Office, won't be available until January.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, several plans for Peacock's wider rollout were upended. Filming production of original programming largely shut down in March, and the plan to piggyback Peacock's national launch on NBC's live coverage of the summer Olympics is moot now that the games have been pushed back to 2021.
Peacock has four more originals scheduled to debut through mid-September, and it has said it's optimistic that its original Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell reboots will be available this year. But much of its original programming won't materialize until later than planned. Not until 2021 will Peacock "arguably really be hitting its stride," according to Matt Strauss, the executive in charge of Peacock.
But the service did have nine original shows and movies to watch at launch. Peacock's launch slate of originals available includes Brave New World, which is Peacock's marquee sci-fi drama adapting Aldous Huxley's novel, and a Psych movie sequel.
Other popular titles at launch include Yellowstone, the Paramount network's hit summer series, and Law & Order: SVU. Like the originals, all of these titles are on the premium level of Peacock, but all of them allow you to sample a few episodes free. In the case of Law & Order: SVU, you can sample more than two dozen episodes free, including the entire first season. And in the case of the Psych sequel, you can watch the full movie with advertising without signing up to a premium tier, even though it is an Peacock original and supposed to be behind the paywall.