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Comcast will start charging Xfinity customers for Peacock in June

The cable giant is trying to turn around Peacock's financial losses by charging customers for a perk they've long received for free.

The cable giant is trying to turn around Peacock's financial losses by charging customers for a perk they've long received for free.

Comcast will begin charging its Xfinity video and Internet customers for the premium tier of streaming service Peacock in mid-June, which will see many customers lose access to a great perk that was included as part of their service plan for three years.

Starting June 26, Xfinity video and Internet customers will have to shell out the same $5 a month for Peacock Premium that non-Xfinity customers do if they want to continue accessing its full library of television shows, blockbuster movies and streaming sports.

Comcast has offered eligible Xfinity customers access to Peacock Premium since it launched in early 2020. Subscribers who had access to an X1-powered set-top box or a Flex streaming TV device were able to get the freebie when they signed up for a Peacock account through their TV set.

The perk helped Comcast grow the number of users with a Flex-powered device into the millions, though it’s not clear how many of those customers actually used them versus the number who simply agreed to have a Flex box to get Peacock. Likewise, Comcast has grown Peacock’s subscribers to well north of 22 million, though, again, it’s not clear how many of those customers were getting Peacock Premium for free.

In April, Comcast said Peacock lost more than $704 million, and the streaming segment of the business has never been profitable. For this reason, Comcast executives first floated the idea last year of pulling back on free access to Peacock. The company started by eliminating a limited, free tier of service available to everyone late last year. In January, both Comcast and Cox stopped offering free access to Peacock Premium for new customers.

Starting June 26, Comcast will end its free Peacock perk for all video and Internet customers. Some “eligible” customers will receive a special code that will allow them to continue paying for Peacock Premium at a discounted rate, but Comcast hasn’t said which customers will be eligible for this or how much the discount will save them. The cable company did affirm that the discount will be “a limited time offer,” and that customers will have to re-subscribe through their X1 or Flex boxes to get the deal.

Streamers who don’t take steps to convert their free Peacock Premium account into a paid one won’t be billed after June 26, Comcast said, but they also won’t get access to Peacock Premium from that day on. Instead, they will get a “free sampling….of shows and movies on demand, as well as a collection of channels,” Comcast said. The first episode of Peacock’s original programs will also be included, as well as new NBC series that debut throughout the year.

New and current customers of Peacock Premium always have the option to upgrade their account to Peacock Premium Plus, which removes advertisements from most on-demand TV shows and movies, and unlocks a live stream of a customer’s local NBC affiliate.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).