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7 Tips and Hacks to Get the Most Out of Peacock

Illustration: by Martin Gee

Peacock is one of the younger players in the ongoing streaming wars. The service is bankrolled by 70-plus years of NBC content, and as such, its coffers boast all-time binge Hall of Famers like The Office and 30 Rock. (Not to mention vintage classics like Cheers and Family Ties.) Peacock is also considerably more experimental with its deployment, with a free variant and a TV-channel facsimile which breaks up the Netflix-standard episode dump we’ve become accustomed to over the last decade. Here are some tips to parse that infrastructure, because the app offers a lot more than just Michael Scott reruns.

1. Check Out the Channels

If you’re familiar with Pluto or other internet TV networks, you know that there’s a whole universe out there of bespoke, incredibly niche forever-streams designed to hijack your brain for hours at a time. Peacock leans into that format, hard. A subscription gives customers all the usual NBC suspects like NBC Sports and NBC News, but it also has some weird stuff lingering just below the surface. There’s a channel that exclusively airs the Joy of Painting back catalogue! Peacock is primed for offbeat deep dives.

2. Choose Your Subtitle Preferences

Like most streaming platforms, Peacock allows you to alter how you want your subtitles to appear onscreen. Scroll down to the bottom of the settings menu, and you can switch up the text size, shadow depth, color, and even the font. If you’re someone who only wants to watch Parks & Recreation with cursive captions, that power now belongs to you.

3. Search by Clips

Peacock has done the hard work of cutting up a lot of its classic episodes into clips, which means if I’m on the service and type in, say, “parkour,” I can immediately summon up the all-time great Office cold open where Dwight and Michael badly cartwheel through the cubicles. It’s almost like if YouTube were built into the infrastructure, and you should use it accordingly.

4. Ditch the Bars

The app tends to present all of its content in categories, which scroll horizontally through the user interface. That can be pretty annoying, because seriously, who wants to see only five thumbnails at a time? But if you click all the way to the right of, say, “Just Added” or “Featured Films,” or whatever, you’ll see a “View All” button. Select that, and customers are presented with a neat catalogue of content that’s about a billion times more useful than the splash page.

5. Pay Mind to the Tomatometer

Unlike most other streaming platforms that rely on their own insulated rating systems, Peacock presents the Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer percentages of its movie index right onscreen. It’s presented above the “Watch Now” button, so that before anyone jumps into Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, they can see that it scored an 81 percent positivity ratio among critics back in 2001. From what I can tell, Peacock doesn’t display the Tomatometer for especially bad films on the service. I’m not seeing one for The Matrix Revolutions, and honestly, that should be taken as a sign!

6. It’s Free!

This is less of a hack and more of a reminder: Peacock is free! Well, at least it has a free version. Customers who sign up are immediately granted access to some stone-cold NBC classics, like early seasons of The Office and The Tonight Show. Considering how Netflix and Hulu require a nominal payment at every tier, that is pretty cool — just don’t expect to be able to jump into some of Peacock’s original programming without entering a credit-card number.

7. All of the Wrestling Is Right There

Hardcore wrestling fans understand that the WWE Network migrated over to Peacock earlier this year. But if you’re a lapsed fan who tapped out during the final few Steve Austin runs, you might be inclined to page over to the far right of the screen, press the “WWE” button, and discover a startlingly huge archive of wrestling history. Want to rewatch WrestleMania X-Seven? It’s right there! Curious to check in on Edge these days? The world is your oyster. For all of the WWE’s many current problems, the sheer volume of content now hosted on Peacock is a sight to behold — even if you spend all of your time there catatonically absorbing old Total Divas seasons.

7 Tips and Hacks to Get the Most Out of Peacock