Comcast wants Xfinity subscribers to pay up for Peacock. In a post on Twitter, the Comcast-owned NBCUniversal confirmed plans to stop offering free access to Peacock Premium to Xfinity subscribers on June 26th, 2023 (via Variety).
Peacock Premium, which normally costs $4.99 per month, is an ad-supported plan that has been available to Xfinity customers at no extra cost since the service first launched in 2020. Details about the change first emerged in a post on Reddit, which an NBCUniversal representative later confirmed to Variety and The Streamable.
As part of the change, Xfinity will start offering a discounted version of Peacock to Xfinity subscribers in place of the free subscription. It’s still unclear how much this add-on will cost, however, and the company didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment. The company will also stop offering free Peacock Premium to new Xfinity customers starting on April 3rd, and will only provide free, six-month trials going forward.
This follows last month’s shutdown of Peacock’s fully free tier, which gave users limited access to shows including Yellowstone and The Office. The company also ended its agreement with Cox internet and cable customers in January, requiring them to pay up for Peacock Premium as well.
While NBCUniversal initially marketed Peacock as a “free as a bird” service, the company’s decision to cut off Xfinity customers doesn’t come as much of a shock. Last June, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell hinted that the company will make Xfinity customers pay for Peacock “at some point.”
But with the streaming service’s slow growth and $3 billion in expected losses, NBCUniversal’s likely looking for ways to squeeze existing subscribers, while forcing freeloaders to pay up. The company's already making moves to improve the content it has on offer, with the release of the breakout hit Poker Face and the addition of local NBC stations for Premium Plus subscribers. Peacock reported having a total of 20 million paid subscribers last quarter.
It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to hang on to all the viewers who tuned into Peacock with their Xfinity subscriptions, though. As an Xfinity customer who’s been getting Peacock for free for over a year now, I’m certainly not looking forward to shelling out extra cash on top of all the other streamer services I’m already subscribed to, even if it is at a discount.
Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is also an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.