What is Peacock and why should fans of Premier League clubs care?
The days of NBC Sports making every single Premier League game available “for free” to soccer fans in the United States who had access to NBC Sports Live Extra are long gone. The world has changed a lot since NBC’s Premier League debut in 2013. And as each season has passed, NBC Sports has used the Premier League to find new and innovative ways to increase their revenue as well as locking in viewers to keep their cable or satellite TV subscription.
With the July 15 public launch of Peacock — NBC’s streaming answer to the competition’s Disney+, CBS All-Access and Hulu — the expectation was that non-televised matches of the Premier League would begin on Peacock in August 2020. But with today’s news, NBC Sports has decided to accelerate the start date to June 20 with the live broadcast of Bournemouth against Crystal Palace on Peacock Premium.
That match, which will also be available via NBC Sports Gold, is just the starting point. In total between June 17 and July 2, Peacock Premium will stream seven matches from the Premier League. Soccer fans without Peacock can watch those seven via NBC Sports Gold as another option.
In all seven of those games, they feature lower tier Premier League clubs. The only exception is the July 1st clash between Arsenal and Norwich, which may ruffle the feathers of Gunners supporters. But again, NBC Sports Gold is another option for that game, so it’s not the end of the world.
Having said that, soccer fans have to jump more hoops than they did before to watch Premier League soccer. Peacock Premium isn’t available to the general public until July 15, so only Comcast Xfinity customers can access it. But not all Comcast Xfinity subscribers — only those with X1 or Flex.
If you’re not a Comcast customer with a X1 or Flex, NBC Sports Gold is offering a reduced rate of $9.99 for the remainder of the 2019/20 season through July 31. It’s certainly a good value to get the matches, but it comes with the caveat that it includes an auto-renewal of $64.99 for next season once the July 31st date arrives.
For the hardcore soccer fans, it’s important to get up to speed on Peacock since the streaming service will broadcast the non-televised Premier League matches next season (along with NBC Sports Gold).
The three different versions of Peacock are:
1. Peacock Free — No access to live Premier League games (no access to replays either).
Peacock Free includes next day access to current seasons of TV shows, popular movies, curated daily news and sports programming including the Olympics, Spanish-language content, select episodes of marquee Peacock originals and tent-pole series
2. Peacock Premium — Available for free to Comcast Xfinity customers. Will be available to the general public beginning July 15 for $5 per month. Live non-televised Premier League games will be available to subscribers. Replays of non-televised games will be available the next day.
For the 2020/21 season, Peacock Premium (and NBC Sports Gold) will stream more than 140 non-televised Premier League matches to viewers in the United States.
According to NBC, Peacock Premium features “thousands of hours of iconic shows and megahit movies plus full series episodes, next day airing of current NBC hits, Peacock Originals, premier sports, exclusives and channels you can only watch on Peacock.”
3. Peacock Premium without ads — As the name suggests, an ad-free version is available to Xfinity customers for $5/month, and for $10/month to the general public.
If you’re a Comcast customer, then Peacock Premium appears to be — sight unseen — a worthy addition to your subscription. But what it does for everyone else is to create another paywall to understand and consider in a world where more and more media organizations are putting content behind subscriptions. The Peacock Premium price point is competitive, but we’ll have to see if the value it provides is worth a subscription. (Currently, Peacock Premium is offering a huge deal on their annual subscription).
Personally speaking, Peacock Premium has already pushed me to make a move. As a cord cutter who has Comcast Xfinity only for the Internet service, I had been holding off on Comcast’s offer of a free Flex streaming device because I already own a Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV stick. What do I need another streaming box for? But with the news that Premier League games will be available sooner than expected on Peacock Premium, it compelled me to order Flex for free. Will it increase the likelihood I’ll stay as a Comcast Xfinity Internet customer in the future instead of switching to AT&T or another ISP? And will it compel more consumers to sign up for Peacock Premium too? We shall see.
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