Another streaming service bites the dust, as Peacock’s stint on the UK streaming stage is coming to an abrupt close.
NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, which made its UK debut via Sky and NOW in late 2021, will cease operations next month – at least as a standalone library.
This move signals a significant shift in strategy for Sky, which had initially integrated Peacock’s library into its broader offering at no extra cost to subscribers.
However, in its over two-year run, Peacock’s performance fell short of the fanfare that accompanied its arrival, never quite managing to expand its catalogue or carve out a strong presence alongside established streaming titans.
This closure signals an unceremonious end to the service – but what happens to its shows now? Here’s what you need to know.
Peacock In The US: A Fully Fledged Streaming Service
When NBCUniversal announced Peacock in January 2019, the intent was clear: to make a significant mark in the streaming landscape dominated by heavyweights like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video.
Named after the NBC logo, Peacock was envisioned as a versatile platform, offering an array of content ranging from original series to a vast library of films and shows from NBCUniversal studios and other third-party providers
Peacock’s soft US launch on April 15, 2020, marked the service’s initial step into the market, followed by a national launch on July 15 of the same year
Its unique offering (which ended up being somewhat confusing to some) was its tiered subscription model, comprising of Free, Premium (with adverts), and Premium Plus tiers.
The free tier has since been discontinued for new users.
By October 2023, Peacock boasted 30 million paid subscribers. This growth was further bolstered by strategic content decisions, like the move in July 2021 to bring Universal films to Peacock during the pay-one window, significantly boosting its movie offerings
At launch, Peacock offered at least 15,000 hours of content without a subscription, with an additional 5,000 hours available to Premium subscribers
The service’s content was drawn primarily from the NBCUniversal library, including hit series like The Office and Parks and Recreation, which moved exclusively to Peacock.
Peacock also tried to distinguish itself with a range of original programming. Among its notable original series from its early days were Brave New World, a sci-fi series offering a modern take on Aldous Huxley’s classic novel (it got cancelled after one season), and the rebooted Saved by the Bell, which brought a fresh perspective to the beloved ’90s sitcom (and got cancelled after two seasons).
Additionally, the service featured shows like Dr. Death, Rutherford Falls, Bel-Air (the Fresh Prince reboot), The Equalizer TV series and more.
The UK Peacock Experience: A Muted Presence
When Peacock launched in the UK in November 2021, it was met with a sense of anticipation.
As a major American streaming service from NBCUniversal, it promised to bring another slice of the American entertainment experience to British shores – at a time when the UK’s streaming market was less saturated than it is today.
Available at no extra cost to Sky and NOW customers, albeit with adverts (except for those subscribed to NOW Boost), Peacock offered a range of content at launch, including Peacock Originals like Saved by the Bell and Rutherford Falls, alongside classic TV shows and popular dramas
This initial offering suggested a potential growth trajectory similar to its US counterpart. However, the UK version of Peacock diverged significantly from its US model.
Unlike in the US, where Peacock was a standalone streaming service with its own app, Peacock in the UK was never available as an independent streaming service or app.
Instead, it was integrated as a content library within Sky and NOW, limiting its exposure and appeal as a separate brand.
This approach meant that UK viewers could not subscribe to Peacock independently of their existing Sky/NOW subscriptions, potentially limiting its reach and impact.
Furthermore, the content library for Peacock in the UK was notably smaller compared to its US counterpart.
While the US version offered a diverse and extensive range of content, the UK version was constrained in terms of both the volume and variety of content – and, at some point, new content became very scarce – with new Peacock shows actually launching on OTHER Sky channels.
Poker Face, for example, which was created by Rian Johnson, was a prominent Peacock show in the US last year – but ended up on Sky Max in the UK.
Eventually, Peacock’s integration into Sky and NOW was a double-edged sword.
While it provided the service with an immediate user base, it also meant that Peacock did not have a distinct identity in the UK. This lack of standalone presence possibly affected its ability to establish itself as a unique and desirable streaming option.
Consequently, Peacock in the UK was perceived more as an extension of existing services rather than a new, exciting entrant into the market.
The End of Peacock In The UK
On January 9, 2024, Peacock will officially conclude its services in the UK: the “app” on Sky’s devices will be shut down, and most of its shows on NOW are currently marked as scheduled to be removed by that date.
This official announcement marks the end of Peacock’s brief stint as a part of the UK’s streaming landscape – at least as a standalone service.
Sky’s statement also detailed the future of Peacock’s content post-closure.
Some of Peacock’s programming will be redistributed across Sky’s various channels, and some shows will transition to the Hayu app.
We’re told, for example, that Bel-Air Season 2, Mr Mayor and The Equalizer will all continue to be available on Sky and NOW.
However, not all the content from Peacock’s library will make this move. This reallocation means a certain portion of Peacock’s offerings, especially less popular titles, will no longer be available to UK audiences (unless they find their way to other streaming services).
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