Peacock’s “Channels” Is the Latest FAST Service to Launch. Here’s How It Compares

Peacock Channels FAST
Cheyne Gateley/VIP

Peacock is Comcast’s second free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service, following the acquisition of Xumo earlier in 2020.

Peacock isn’t exclusively a FAST service, but the FAST section, dubbed Channels in the app, is one of the main components to Peacock, and is available on paid and free tiers. It is worth noting that the channels within Channels will still play ads even if a user purchases the premium no-ads option.

Note too, that some channels, such as the Premier League channel, will only be available as linear channels to premium paid subscribers. These linear channels, not being free in nature, are not technically FAST and thus are excluded from the analysis below.

Peacock’s entry into the FAST market means that there are now eight major FAST services available to consumers. Of these, Peacock Channels has the fewest number of channels on offer, coming in with 32. When compared with market leader Pluto TV, this is almost one-eighth of the 248 channels Pluto currently musters up.

Similar to Pluto maximizing its relationship with ViacomCBS, and in a bid to attract consumers looking for some brand recognition, Peacock makes use of considerable NBCUniversal IP in its channel lineup. As can be seen from the list below, currently nine of the 32 available channels make use of NBCU property, ranging from shows such as “The Office” and “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” to late night fare from Seth Myers, Jimmy Fallon and “Saturday Night Live”, to networks like NBC and CNBC. 

It’s worth noting too that channels announced at the January 2020 Peacock reveal, such as Law & Order based “L+O Dun Dun” were not available with the launch, and so VIP anticipates the number of channels based on NBCU IP to continue growing.

Just over half (18) of the channels available on Peacock are exclusive to the platform and can’t be viewed on any other service. That leaves fourteen shared among other FAST services. Along with staples on any FAST platform such as “Unsolved Mysteries” and “The Pet Collective”, Peacock has in some instances gone to the same well as Sinclair Broadcasting’s STIRR service, but repackaged what STIRR has broken out into several channels into two (“80s Mixtape” and “In It to Win It”). 

The licensing of non-exclusive channels suggests that Peacock wanted to pad their offering and make sure that it had several screens to scroll through, to convey depth. The inclusion of a FAST component for Peacock is to keep viewers within the ecosystem for longer, thus exposing them to more advertising in order to monetize the audience as much as possible. 

By making several key IP pieces available for free within Channels (much as Peacock’s free on-demand section also features strong brands), Peacock’s strategy is quality over quantity with content strong enough to act as a magnet to browsers. While the service may lack the overall channel counts that Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel and STIRR have to offer, instead it has content not available anywhere else that has instant consumer recognition. That should be enough for Channels to begin creating an audience base, and, more importantly, generating revenue for NBCU.

For more information on the FAST marketplace, including an overview of how it works as well as deep profiles of the major FAST players, download VIP’s special report “Life in the F.A.S.T. Lane”, sponsored by Pluto TV.