Peacock Says No More Free Streams for Newbies

Peacock Says No More Free Streams for Newbies

On the long and ever-growing list of streaming services, NBC Universal’s Peacock managed to stand out for more than its silly name. The online home of cable classics like Parks and Rec and The Office distinguished itself, not just through its wide array of programming and user-friendly interface, but also through its subscription options.

Unlike its competitors, Peacock has offered users the option to sign up for a free, ad-supported tier since its 2020 launch. The free version only included access to about half of the material in Peacock’s catalogue, but still, it’s been nice to not have to pay for yet another monthly subscription. Now though, new subscribers to the Comcast-owned streaming service no longer have that option, as first reported by the Streamable on Tuesday.

Instead, on the sign-up page, would-be customers are given only two options. There’s a $US4.99 ($7) per month ad-based “Premium” tier or a $US9.99 ($14) per month ad-free “Premium Plus” subscription — both of which were previously available as well. There’s also a limited time deal on offer, where new customers can get a year of ad-supported premium for $US29.99 ($42), more than a 40% discount.

Peacock Says No More Free Streams for Newbies

However, there are a couple of ways to still access the newly nixed free option, for now. Peacock users who had already signed up for the free tier will still be able to access a limited range of free content. And premium, paying customers who cancel their accounts will retain access to that same cost-free suite of programming.

In a phone conversation, an NBC spokesperson told Gizmodo that the decision to end new free sign-ups is meant to bring renewed focus to the company’s premium options. The spokesperson noted that the majority of Peacock’s viewers experience the platform via its paid tiers, and that the service has 20 million paying subscribers, but would not specify the number of users currently opting for free accounts.

Last week, Comcast reported its fourth quarter earnings and revealed that Peacock has been haemorrhaging money. The streaming service lost $US978 ($1,358) million in the final quarter of 2022. Those losses likely help explain why Peacock is pivoting away from free content — the service is struggling to become a profitable entity.

The paying tiers are what allows Peacock to be most competitive in the streaming world, the NBC spokesperson told Gizmodo.

Other streaming services, even Netflix, have also been struggling financially in recent months. In an effort to improve its prospects, Netflix began offering a lower-cost, ad-supported tier in late 2022. However, if anything, Peacock’s recent decision proves that ads aren’t enough — streaming companies still seem to need those subscriber bucks.

One small piece of good news for your wallet: at least for now, Peacock doesn’t have any plans to increase the cost of its subscription offerings, according to the NBC spokesperson. Even without the free option, Peacock still clocks in as one of the most affordable streaming services available.

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