the streaming wars

NBCUniversal’s Streaming Service Is Called Peacock and It’s Launching Next April

Photo: NBCU

NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service finally has a name — Peacock — and a whole bunch of newly announced programming. The long-in-the-works service will launch next April, anchored by more than 15,000 hours of content from the entertainment conglomerate’s TV and movie vaults. In addition to a previously announced deal to take back The Office from Netflix in 2021, NBCU Tuesday said that starting next fall, Peacock will also be the exclusive streaming home for the Universal TV–produced Parks and Recreation, which currently streams on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

The new service has also locked down deals for a slew of originals with ties to existing NBCU brands, including a reboot of Battlestar Galactica overseen by Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot), revivals of Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster, a comedy/talk show hosted by Late Night’s Amber Ruffin, a new spinoff from The Real Housewives universe, and a new comedy from The Good Place creator Mike Schur starring The Office’s Ed Helms. There’ll also be dozens of films from the Universal library, new animated shows from DreamWorks Animation, and even reruns of Downton Abbey.

Though there’s still no exact launch date, price, or details on how Peacock will be distributed, NBCU has previously said the service will be ad-supported, with anyone who subscribes to a cable package (or a virtual cable service such as YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV) possibly being able to watch for free. There will also be a stand-alone subscription, though it’s not yet clear if there’ll be an ad-free tier. By calling the service Peacock, NBCU is drawing a connection to the company’s broadcast network, which has used a peacock in its logo for decades.

The branding also underscores how much Peacock will rely on content drawn from the expanded NBCUniversal universe, even with its originals. “The name Peacock pays homage to the quality content that audiences have come to expect from NBCUniversal,” said Bonnie Hammer, who’s overseeing the service in her role as chairman of NBC’s direct-to-consumer and digital-enterprises division. And while there was nothing official in the release Tuesday, Hammer seemed to indicate Peacock will also have news and sports content. “Peacock will be the go-to place for both the timely and timeless — from can’t-miss Olympic moments and the 2020 election to classic fan favorites like The Office,” she said.

While Peacock will compete for eyeballs and subscription dollars, it won’t be playing the same premium subscription game as Netflix, HBOMax, or Apple TV+. Instead, it’ll be something of an evolution of services such as CBS All Access and the ad-supported version of Hulu: a destination for superfans of NBCU programming and a way to deliver digital impressions to advertisers. With The Office and Parks and Rec, plus a slate of originals tied to so many well-known properties with significant fan bases, Peacock starts miles ahead of where other ad-centric streaming services began.

In terms of content, NBCU said Peacock’s slate will focus on six main areas. Here’s a look at what the service has planned for each of them.

Library titles

Beyond the exclusive deals for Parks and The Office, Peacock will be populated with dozens of existing TV shows and movies at launch. Many will be former NBC shows, including SNL, Cheers, 30 Rock, Frasier, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Superstore, Will & Grace, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Others will come from NBCU properties such as USA and Bravo (Battlestar Galactica, Chrisley Knows Best, Top Chef, Psych, Royal Pains, Monk, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians), while some aired on other networks but were produced by NBCU companies (Downton Abbey, Bates Motel, and House). Interestingly, Peacock has also licensed streaming runs of Married … With Children and King of Queens, which were produced by Sony.


The big news here — beyond the Ruffin show and the Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster revivals — is Schur and Helms teaming for Rutherford Falls, in which, per a Peacock press release, “a small town in upstate New York is turned upside down when local legend and town namesake Nathan Rutherford (Helms) fights the moving of a historical statue.” Helms and Schur are co-creating the show with Superstore writer Sierra Teller Ornelas. Also newly announced is a pilot order for an odd-couple-esque comedy from writer Kara Brown and director/executive producer Rashida Jones, with Jada Pinkett Smith attached to star. As previously announced, season three of A.P. Bio will run on Peacock.


The headline hour on the Peacock slate is the Esmail-led Battlestar reboot, which will also feature Chad Hamilton as an executive producer. The streamer didn’t announce plot or cast specifics for the project. Peacock will also be home to a previously announced TV adaptation of Brave New World, a show based on the podcast Dr. Death starring Christian Slater and Alec Baldwin, and the Esmail-produced limited series Angelyn starring Emmy Rossum.


No details yet, but NBCU says Peacock will feature “premium original films and animated series” based on Universal and DreamWorks Animation properties, as well as a bevy of titles from the company’s film library, including E.T., Jaws, Field of Dreams, Shrek, Mamma Mia!, Back to the Future, Bridesmaids, American Pie, and the Bourne, Despicable Me, and Fast & Furious franchises.


No details, but Peacock says it’s working on a Real Housewives spinoff. There’ll also be an SNL-themed docuseries called Who Wrote That?, which will look at how classic sketches came to be, and an unspecified talk show from Jimmy Fallon.

Spanish-language programming

One-fifth of Peacock’s 15,000 hours of content will come from NBCU-owned Telemundo, including a new comedy called Armas de Mujer and an original series from the creators of La Reina del Sur.

NBCUniversal’s Streaming Service Is Called Peacock