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Peacock: 'Yellowstone,' What's Free, What's Paid and What Else to Know

CNET logo CNET 3/2/2022 Joan E. Solsman
Angela Lang/CNET © Provided by CNET 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. And only paying Peacock members -- those on one of its two premium tiers -- can access everything on the service, including cowboy drama YellowstonePremier League matchesWWE, The Office, most of Peacock's originals and any theatrical movies that stream on the service while they're in cinemas. 

Generally, that means you'll need to pay either $5 or $10 a month if you want to watch any of those. But some people qualify for discounts on those prices; see the section on deals below.

See it at Peacock

Peacock was one of a flood of new streaming services from tech and media giants that launched over the last two years. 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 offers a free tier. It also has live sports and news; most of the newest streaming services are focused squarely on video-on-demand entertainment along the lines of Netflix. 

When is Yellowstone season 4 on Peacock? Can I stream Yellowstone free? 

Yellowstone's fourth season is scheduled to arrive on Peacock on March 28. That's nearly five months after the new season premiered on the Paramount Network in early November and nearly three months after its finale. 

The whole season will be paywalled. To watch the fourth season on Peacock, you must be on one of its paid subscription tiers that normally cost $5 or $10 a month. 

Peacock already has the first three seasons available to stream. With the exception of one episode, all of Yellowstone is reserved for people on either of the paid, premium tiers. People with free accounts can watch the first episode of Yellowstone's first season, but none of the others. 

Before landing on Peacock on March 28, if you wanted to stream the latest episodes of Yellowstone's fourth season, the only place was on the Paramount Network's website or app. And that's completely different from the streaming service Paramount Plus, which doesn't have any episodes of Yellowstone at all. (Yes, it was confusing.) 

How much does Peacock cost, and what's the deal with the free tier? 

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 one episode of Yellowstone and the first two seasons of The Office, but no more. And though many movies are available on this free tier, some of the most high-profile and newest ones 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 to watch NFL Sunday Night Football, any Premier League matches or live Olympics coverages, you need to pay. 

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.

Are there deals or discounts to get Peacock's premium tiers free? 

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. 

And Spectrum video and broadband customers to get an extended free trial to Peacock, thanks to a deal with parent company Charter Communications. Qualified Spectrum TV customers get a year-long free trial, and qualified Spectrum internet customers get 90 days. 

Read more: How to Get Peacock Premium Free if You Already Pay for Comcast, Cox or Spectrum

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 $10 a month, while its most popular plan is $15.50. 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 have live sports to speak of yet, either). 

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

Does Peacock offer a free trial? 

No, Peacock quietly ended its free trial as a standard offer to new subscribers months ago. 

What's up with WWE on Peacock? 

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

In 2021, 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 were required to sign up for Peacock 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 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. Peacock's paid tiers are also home to all upcoming pay-per-view events (they're called "pay-per-view" but there's no additional cost to watch them on Peacock), as well as the current seasons of WWE Original shows. 

On the free tier, Peacock will also offer a new WWE "channel" with select WWE Original shows; reality shows such as Miz and Mrs., Total Bellas and Total Divas; recent in-ring content. It'll also have new weekly episodes of select live shows including 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 service 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."

What happens to NBC programming on Hulu? 

For now, NBC's shows are still streaming on Hulu. 

Jenna Fischer wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: The Office started streaming on Peacock at the beginning of 2021. NBC © Provided by CNET 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. That deal included terms that essentially allow NBC to have programming stream both on Hulu and on Peacock at the same time.

By 2022, NBCUniversal has the right (but not the obligation) to cancel most of its content-licensing agreements with Hulu, Variety has reported. Other reports have said NBCUniversal has been working on a deal to take new NBC programming off Hulu so it can be moved over to Peacock, but no plans have been confirmed. 

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

Since Peacock has 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 Paramount, for example, gives Peacock past seasons of Yellowstone, the hit cowboy drama on the 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 NFL Sunday Night Football.

Peacock also includes live programming, including the summer and winter Olympics. Select programming from the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics streamed on the free tier, but full live Olympics coverage required a paid account. 

Among other sports on Peacock's free tier, the service had the US Open Championship, Women's Open Championship and an NFL Wild Card Playoff Game. In addition, the free tier had 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. 

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, Saved by the Bell and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. According to Deadline, NBCUniversal hoped 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. 

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