Peacock will have a lot more free content than originally planned

Peacock launches nationwide on July 15. (NBCUniversal)

Clearly, the world has changed a lot since January. Since that time, NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service, Peacock, has also significantly changed its plans around free content.

When NBCU officially introduced Peacock in January, the broadcaster said the free tier would include 7,500 hours of content. Jump ahead to July, on the eve of Peacock’s nationwide launch, and that number is now more than 13,000 hours.

Peacock’s free tier will include a film library with titles like “The Bourne Identity,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Matrix,” “Phantom Thread,” “Psycho” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The free tier will offer new episodes of NBC current season series, sample episodes of Peacock originals like “Brave New World” and a big library of series including “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood,” “Storage Wars” and “Hell’s Kitchen” along with some kids series and Spanish-language titles.

The expanded slate of scripted content on Peacock likely has a lot to do with NBCU’s recently announced deal with ViacomCBS to carry CBS and Showtime series along with Paramount films.

The free tier also has live sports like four Premier League soccer matches on July 15, coverage of the U.S. Open Championship and Women’s Open Championships, an NFL Wild Card playoff game and some events from the upcoming Tokyo and Beijing Olympics.

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The big increase in free content offered on Peacock plays into NBCU’s original mission statement for the service.

“Increasingly streamers want alternatives and are looking to access premium content with ads in exchange for a lower cost,” said Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, in January. “This represents a growing white space opportunity in the streaming market and where we plan to squarely focus Peacock.”

Advertising revenue is key to Peacock’s success so NBCU has sweetened the pot with more free content to get more viewers through the door and watching ads. The company expects the service to attract 30 million to 35 million active accounts in the U.S., $2.5 billion in revenue with $6 to $7 ARPU driven mostly by advertising, and breakeven adjusted EBITDA, all by 2024.

While free entertainment is likely to get more people started on Peacock, the free tier is clearly designed to entice consumers into paying $5/month to unlock more. The free tier offers glimpses of original series and live sports along with delayed access to network shows, while Premium unlocks all the originals and sports and shrinks the streaming window for new shows to one day instead of one week.