Peacock Is the Perfect Streaming Service to Stuff in Your Pantry
Signage for the NBCUniversal Inc. Peacock streaming service is displayed on a laptop computer in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)

Peacock Is the Perfect Streaming Service to Stuff in Your Pantry

BloombergOpinion

(Bloomberg) -- I’ll never forget my first taste of Peacock.

It was a gloomy Thursday afternoon during the pandemic. I was in my basement. There was a bunch of laundry to do. Outside it was raining. I fired up the TV and discovered that my cable provider, Comcast, had quietly turned on my family’s access to its new streaming service Peacock. “Welcome to the flock,” it said. 

Damn right, brother. 

I dug in. There was a lot of familiar stuff to choose from. Old episodes of “Saturday Night Live.” Full seasons of various NBC TV series that I used to love, including “Friday Night Lights” and “30 Rock.” Some vintage Olympics-related programming and footage. And a generous array of movies, many of which I’d seen in the past and enjoyed: “Lost in Translation,” “Do the Right Thing,” “Definitely, Maybe.” 

Not too shabby.

Over the next several days, I occasionally thought of Peacock, always warmly. I happily informed my kids about its arrival in our basement, thinking the zoological name might especially pique their interest. “Is it on my iPad?” my 5-year-old son asked me. “Well, not yet,” I explained to him. “But later this year, it will be. You see, we’re early, beta Peacock adopters. Peacock’s corporate parents are staggering the full rollout of the service, and...”

He was gone. 

In any case, I was pleased. After many weeks of social isolation, I felt better knowing that if I ever somehow came to the end of the long list of things I really wanted to watch but hadn’t yet found the time for — the new season of “Bosch” on Amazon Prime Video, “The Last Dance” on ESPN, season four of “Billions” on Showtime, “Beastie Boys Story” on Apple TV+, “Lost Girls” on Netflix, season three of “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, “The Plot Against America” on HBO — if the content cupboard ever ran dry, a well-stuffed Peacock would be there, waiting in the wings, to tide us over. “Definitely, Maybe,” I murmured like a sailor’s prayer. “Definitely, Maybe.”

And so, I quickly came to adore Peacock the way I cherish the extra stash of canned tuna that I now keep squirreled away in the auxiliary pantry in my garage. Sure, there’s a good chance that I’ll never use it. But if I ever do, you can bet it’ll do the trick just fine.

Recently, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my dear, long-ago departed grandparents, Milton and Salome, who lived through many tough times — pandemics, wars, depressions. Somewhere along the way, they’d learned to reflexively prepare for the worst. Their house in Muncie, Indiana, was crammed full of free stuff that they held onto, just in case. There were crawl spaces filled with old plastic milk jugs and drawers stuffed with hundreds of rubber bands harvested over the years from their morning newspaper. You never know when you might need something, they’d tell me. In a pinch, everything has value.

Maybe even old, chopped-up clips of Chuck Todd?

Yes, there are some things about Peacock you could criticize. The navigation is wonky and confusing. The current lack of an iOS app means I can’t watch it on my iPad, where I consume 90% of my viewing. Peacock’s “trending” section is an abomination — the kind of cringe-worthy, viral-video glop capable of making Quibi look like Fellini.

And overall, for a giant media company wading into a ferociously competitive battle for attention, the service gives off a surprisingly half-baked vibe. But complaining about Peacock — a free, pleasant, functional thing that somehow landed in my house without so much as an invitation — would be petty and besides the point. Better to cram it away in the back of a drawer for safe keeping. 

As my grandfather Milton might have said, sometimes a half-baked peacock is better than no peacock at all.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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