Peacock shares many similarities with NBC, but they are not the same. Both NBC and Peacock are owned by NBCUniversal and this does mean that they overlap in many ways. Making a note of how the two services operate, what each one offers, and how much they both cost can help to decide which one is best for an individual or household’s streaming needs. For some, it could be the case that neither is best on their own.
NBC is likely to already be familiar to many, considering it is a popular live TV channel in the US. While subscribers to a live TV service that includes NBC can download a dedicated NBC app and watch on-demand episodes, NBC is primarily a traditional linear channel. In other words, viewers can tune in and watch content as it is broadcast for the first time, as well as old reruns as and when they are scheduled.
Peacock is a much newer product considering the service only launched in 2020. It is also a standalone service where subscribers sign up and watch through the Peacock website or by downloading the app on a supported device. Unlike NBC, however, Peacock is primarily designed to be an on-demand service, and this live TV/on-demand distinction results in many other differences between the two.
Similar content, but Peacock offers more
One of the most important differences between Peacock and NBC is the variety of content a subscriber can watch. For example, Peacock not only provides access to popular NBC shows, but it also opens up shows and movies from other networks like Bravo, Oxygen, Syfy, and USA Network. This is all in addition to offering its own exclusive programming as well. In this sense, Peacock offers more content than what’s available through NBC alone.
However, a major point to keep in mind is that NBC broadcasts episodes live. When it comes to the very latest episodes of a popular show, NBC is going to be the place to watch them. While Peacock subscribers can also often watch the latest episodes, they are usually only available to stream the day after they were first shown on NBC. If watching an episode as soon as possible is important, NBC is going to be the better option.
Sports is where another major difference comes into play. When NBCSN was around, NBCUniversal looked to balance the amount of sports content available between NBCSN and Peacock. That is now true with NBC to some extent, but Peacock is increasingly becoming the default location for sports. A good example of this is the Olympics. While Peacock shows every minute of every live event, only some events are shown on NBC, with other events broadcast on other NBCUniversal channels including CNBC, the Olympics Channel and USA network.
Even with sports, things are not totally consistent, and the exact degree of access will depend on the sport. The English Premier League is a prime example as Peacock does offer the option to watch a number of EPL games live, but many are still reserved for broadcast on live TV channels. Again, while some games are exclusively shown on NBC, others are shown on the various other NBCUniversal channels. This means that, unlike with the Olympics, neither Peacock nor NBC can be used to watch all EPL games live, forcing users that want the full experience to subscribe to both Peacock and a live TV service that carries the various NBCU-owned channels.
Peacock is cheaper, but not an NBC replacement
As to be expected, the cost is also very different. NBC can actually be watched for free in many places in the United States by accessing the over-the-air local channel. However, most homes will typically get NBC as part of a live TV package. In terms of streaming, the cheapest option for NBC is Sling TV at $35 per month. For reference, Not all Sling TV subscribers get access to NBC, and consumers could end up paying significantly more each month if opting for one of the other live TV streaming services. Regardless of how much the live TV subscription costs, subscribers to NBC also typically get access to many other NBCUniversal channels as well.
With Peacock being a standalone streaming service, there’s no need for an expensive package that bundles other channels and services. In fact, Peacock even offers a free tier for those that don’t want to pay anything at all. The free plan is limited in terms of the amount of content a user can watch, with the Peacock Premium and Premium Plus plans designed to cater to the needs of those that want unlimited access to the service. The standard Premium plan costs $4.99 per month while the Premium Plus subscription ups the monthly price to $9.99. Generally speaking, the main difference between the two Premium plans is ads, although there are some other differences that might impact on the decision as well, such as the ability to download shows to watch offline.
When it comes to price, both NBC and Peacock can be accessed for free. However, this will be determined by location and hardware in NBC’s case, and by how much content a subscriber wants in Peacock’s case. If opting for a subscription, then Peacock is the cheaper option overall, but some homes may find that a standalone Peacock subscription on its own is not quite enough to replace the need for NBC.
Peacock and NBC summary
Peacock and NBC have a lot in common with access to many of the same shows, but Peacock also offers access to episodes and movies from other NBCUniversal-owned channels as well. This, combined with paid plans starting at $4.99 per month, makes it a good subscription to have. However, it is not quite good enough to fully replace NBC and the other NBCUniversal channels.
In reality, NBCUniversal has positioned Peacock and NBC as complementary services that overlap in many ways but not in others. While some may find that a Peacock subscription is enough to keep up with recent episodes or to watch live sports, there will be many occasions when a live TV package with NBC is still required. This will particularly be the case for those interested in watching live sports or the latest episodes of popular NBC shows as soon as they are released. For everyone else, a Peacock subscription might be enough.