July 15 marks the one-year anniversary for Peacock, the streaming service from NBC and Universal. Peacock launched in the summer of 2020 while a lot of folks were at home, and yet it hasn’t been the rousing success the company hoped for.
The launch that … could have gone better
Peacock’s launch was timed around the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which as I write this are scheduled to start in the next week or so. The games were postponed because, well, you know. This blunted the Peacock launch of course, but the app did launch with a decent amount of catalog material as well as a few “halo” original shows. Unfortunately, that first round of shows weren’t well-reviewed and have largely disappeared from public perception in the year since.
It’s getting there
Slowly, Peacock developed a small stable of shows that attracted a little bit of buzz. Rutherford Falls and The Amber Ruffin show have reasonably sized followings, and the movie selection continues to improve thanks to the huge Universal content library.
Adding The Office obviously helped a lot, and I suspect there will be a large number of people who stay just for that one show. The tales of Michael Scott and his band of paper salespeople might not be the draw they once were, as the show begins to seem like a relic of an earlier time. But certainly this is the app’s halo product and it’s going to make a difference over time.
The real test of Peacock’s viewership should be the Olympics. NBC continues to refine its approach on Olympic coverage. They were slow to embrace streaming as a way to get content to you, but they’ve certainly improved with every four-year cycle. This time around you should be able to see literally every event that interests you using the Peacock app. It remains to be seen how many events will be shown that don’t feature Americans. That’s always been a weak spot for US coverage of the games, despite the fact that “pool” coverage of these events doesn’t cost NBC any more.
Personally I’ve had a pretty big bug with the Peacock app and I can’t seem to shake it. On TvOS, the app stops at the loading screen pretty much every time. I have to quit the app manually. After that it’s fine. It’s been like this for months and the only reason that I don’t shout about it is, well, I don’t spend a lot of time on that app anyway.
Will you keep paying for the app?
Before launching, Peacock offered special pricing for those who wanted to pay for a year in advance. It was a smart move for an unproven service, and a lot of people took advantage. All those yearly contracts are now up. It should be interesting to see what happens now.
Technically there’s no “canceling” Peacock. You just move down to the free tier, which takes away access to about half the content and adds frequent commercials. I don’t know how many people will be happy at that level. I tend to think if you paid for Peacock in the past year and you didn’t like it, you’ll just walk away from it.
Personally, I have had plenty of opportunity to sample Peacock. Most of the shows I want to see are also on Hulu. The original programming didn’t impress me at all. Brave New World was perhaps the least interesting sci-fi adaptation in decades and I was incredibly disappointed.
So for me, I’ll be going to the free tier and probably never going back to the app. What about you?