Peacock’s early preview kicks off Wednesday, with the national launch still on track for July

April 14, 2020, 7:18 PM UTC

NBCUniversal is going ahead with its plan to roll out Peacock Premium to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex customers Wednesday, even as the coronavirus pandemic has stalled work on most new productions and delayed the service’s ability to offer Olympics content.

The service is also still on track for its national launch on July 15, in which the company will offer several tiers, said Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, during a call with the press Tuesday.

In spite of a changing world and some delays in programming planned for the service, Strauss said there were a few “positives” worth noting as Peacock launches.  

“First, what’s postponed in 2020 will come back to us even bigger in 2021, when Peacock will arguably really be hitting its stride,” he said. “If you fast forward a few months, Peacock will now have two Olympics in a relatively short period of time.”

He added that dozens of original premieres will also take place in 2021, while noting that some new content, such as a Brave New World adaptation, was “essentially done.” Strauss also noted that amid the pandemic and social distancing, there could be new ways to work with talent.

“You’re seeing this already happen where a lot of really creative people are just trying to find new ways to reach audiences, and we see that as an opportunity for Peacock,” he said.

Both Strauss and Dana Strong, president of Xfinity Consumer Services at Comcast, expressed confidence in Peacock’s overall library, which includes a mix of late night shows, as well as well-loved series including the various Law & Order franchises, classic comedies like The Carol Burnett Show, and more recent sitcoms like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation.

Strong said Xfinity platforms have seen more than a 50% increase in video on demand hours consumed, year over year, with a 25% increase in comedy viewing hours, “perhaps indicating that customers are looking for some lightness.”

When Peacock launches nationwide, a free, ad-supported version will be available, while Peacock Premium, which will offer a wider library, will be offered as either a $4.99-per-month ad-supported version or an ad-free tier for $9.99 per month.

Peacock is just one of a few new notable streamers to launch this year. Quibi launched just last week, and HBO Max still plans to launch in May, even with the coronavirus pandemic delaying the Friends reunion special.

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