TV Answer Man, my friend told me that Comcast is going to start making us pay for Peacock. It’s free now. Do you know if that’s true? It’s one of the better benefits of Xfinity so I don’t want it to go away. — Marci, Shady Side, Maryland. 

Marci, Comcast includes Peacock’s Premium plan for free to Xfinity Flex customers and Xfinity video customers who have a subscription to Xfinity Internet or Digital Starter TV, its equivalent, or above. This has been the case since Peacock launched in July 2020.

Non-Xfinity customers have to pay $4.99 a month for Peacock Premium. (Peacock, a streaming service owned by NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, also has a free plan, but it does not include as many titles and exclusive sports as the Premium package.)

I can understand why your friend would think that Comcast is going to start charging Xfinity customers for Peacock. On June 14, Jeff Shell, NBCUniversal’s CEO, told the Credit Suisse conference that it won’t be free to Xfinity subs forever.

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“By the way, it’s also important to remember that 13 million paying (Peacock) subs come from only a portion of the country, because in Comcast territory, Comcast homes who get Xfinity, get Peacock Premium for free. At some point, we’ll roll that to pay,” Shell said.

The remark prompted several articles suggesting that “some point” meant now. AdWeek, for example, ran a story with the following headline:  “Xfinity Customers, Say Goodbye to Your Free Peacock Premium.” Variety’s headline read: “Comcast to End Peacock Premium Free Promotion for Xfinity Customers.”

However, those headlines, and some others, failed to take into account that Shell also said:

“But right now, (Peacock is) a benefit to our Comcast ecosystem. And so the 13 million doesn’t represent a fair kind of representation when we have millions of people in Comcast homes getting it for free using the content, which we like, by the way.”

In other words, Comcast will eventually shift Peacock from free to pay for Xfinity customers, but it’s not happening now. The executive noted that the company is still benefiting from offering it for free which suggests the switch is not imminent.

So Marci, you can continue to enjoy your free Peacock. At least for now.

Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann