NBCUniversal Shuts Off Peacock Free Tier for New Users

NBCUniversal once touted the free, ad-supported flavor of Peacock as a competitive advantage in the streaming wars, when the service first took flight in 2020 — even debuting with the tagline “Free as a bird.” But now, the media company will make anyone who wants to stream Peacock pay up.

As of Monday (Jan. 30), Peacock had stopped allowing new users to sign up for the free tier. To get Peacock, users will need to subscribe to the Premium plan ($4.99/month) with ads or Premium Plus ($9.99/month) without ads.

“As part of Peacock’s growth strategy, we are shifting our focus to the Premium offering which is more reflective of the brand and the unique experience we can bring subscribers,” an NBCU spokesperson said.

Existing users who have signed up for Peacock Free will continue to be able to access the service for no charge, with ads, for now, according to NBCU. The free Peacock tier has offered only a subset of the programming on the paid plans, with around 10,000 hours.

Meanwhile, NBCU has offered eligible Comcast Cable and Cox customers the ability to access Peacock Premium (with ads) for no additional cost. However, the company plans to eventually end that, too, NBCU chief Jeff Shell said last year.

The move to end signups to Peacock Free come as Comcast reported 20 million paid subscribers for the streamer as of the end of 2022, more than doubling from 9 million a year earlier. For full-year 2022, Peacock had an adjusted loss of $2.5 billion — which Comcast expects to increase to about $3 billion in 2023, marking the year of peak losses for Peacock.

The amount of content on Peacock Premium will continue to grow in 2023, ultimately reaching nearly 100,000 hours of programming across original series, licensed TV shows, movies, and live sports and news, according to NBCU.

NBCU’s ending signups to the free Peacock tier was first reported by The Streamable.

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