What do you get when you mix a bunch of Dolphins and Chiefs with an isolated Peacock?
Some angry football fans, of course.
The news that one of the NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend playoff games would be shown nationally only on the Peacock streaming service was ominous enough for the millions who follow the league. When the matchup that fit into that slot turned out to be the most glamorous of the six that will be contested, the reaction was not entirely pleasant.
On Twitter, Talk host Damon Amendolara of Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio called it a “total pig move” to not make the game available over the air on NBC, which is affiliated with Peacock. Tulsa weatherman Bud Ford – whose station is an ABC affiliate, no surprise – called the decision “disgusting” and declared to the NFL its “money grabbing has gone too far.” There were many more social media comments that were no less passionate but were far less printable.
It doesn’t have to be all bad, though.
Peacock’s basic service costs me less per month than the “beverage club” at the local convenience store that allows me a diet soda each day. And there are programs on the service – for sports fans and beyond – that can make it worthwhile.
Here are 10 good reasons to get Peacock that do not include Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, Travis Kelce or the obligatory Taylor Swift reaction shots we expect to see Saturday night.
MORE: Predicting the NFL’s head-coaching hires for 2024
1. Premier League soccer
It’s hard to be a soccer fan in American and not have a subscription to nearly every streaming service. With Peacock, it’s the chance to watch the majority of Premier League games – 175 per year live games, and pretty much the entire lot on are available for re-air if you don’t catch it live or want to relive the glory of a Liverpool FC victory.
The Premier League has been a television fixture in the U.S. for more than two decades and is home to such star players as Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus, Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son and LFC’s Mohamed Salah.
The sports experience is not as user-friendly as Apple TV or Amazon, which allow greater flexibility in pausing action or arriving late and watching the entire game “plausibly live”. But the picture quality on Peacock’s live games is exceptionally bright and colorful.
2. Big Ten sports
Tuesday night, the Big Ten had a men’s basketball doubleheader on Peacock that wasn’t available anywhere else, and they were consequential games. One involved prestige brand Indiana at Rutgers, and the other became the second loss this season for No. 1 Purdue, on the road at Nebraska.
There are 11 men’s basketball games remaining on the Peacock schedule, including Purdue’s visit to Illinois on Tuesday, March 5. Another 19 women’s basketball games are on the service, and seven of them involve Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark. Three of those, near the end of February, have the potential to be the occasion of her breaking the NCAA career scoring record for women’s hoops.
There will be eight football games exclusively on Peacock in 2024.
3. Poker Face
This is not a sports show. It should not be confused with any of the Texas Hold’em tournaments that became ubiquitous on all-sports TV about 20 years ago. Poker Face is a reinvention of the mystery-per-week genre that became popular with “Colombo” in the ’70s and “Murder She Wrote” in the ’90s. This one’s cooler.
Starring Natasha Lyonne of “Orange is the New Black” and “Russian Doll”, this program was one of the best new series on American television in 2023. The basic premise: Lyonne’s character, Charlie Cale, has a nearly supernatural ability to tell when someone speaking to her is lying, and that both gets her into and out of trouble. It features a rolling cast of elite guest actors, with exceptional performances from the likes of Ellen Barkin, Judith Light, Lil Rel Howery and Stephanie Hsu.
There are 10 episodes to date, and a second season is promised.
4. The Holdovers
One of the best movies of an exceptional year in film, “The Holdovers” stars Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and young Dominic Sessa. It was directed by the reliably excellent Alexander Payne, who previously gave us “Election”, “Sideways”, “Nebraska and “The Descendants”.
The story of three people essentially stranded at an elite New England prep school in the 1970s, it’s worth every penny one will pay to see it on Peacock. I know this because I originally paid for tickets to see it in a theater, but had to pass because my wife became ill, and then chose to pay the way-early pay-per-view price of $ 20 to watch it at home. And it still felt like a bargain.
Peacock’s movie library also includes some of the greatest movies of the 2010s: “True Grit”, “Black Klansman” and the best of all, “Hell or High Water”.
5. The Office
Jim and Pam. Michael Scott. Stanley, Phyllis, Toby and Creed. They are some of the most memorable characters in situation comedy history, and there are nine seasons worth of their work on Peacock.
6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
We lost the great Andre Braugher in early December, one of the finest dramatic actors of the past four decades. Some of his best work is contained in the eight seasons of this comedy – as he played a mostly serious character who is dropped into the most absurd police precinct imaginable. The genius of this show is that this impossible combination works, brilliantly.
The physical sweep of the series alone makes it worth watching, with scenery that would have been wasted on the analog TVs of the past but becomes breathtaking in high definition. Some of the characters and situations in his horse opera can be absurdly violent or absurdly pathetic, but that’s what makes it fun.
8. Mr. Monk’s Last Case
Fans of the television show “Monk,” which starred the great Tony Shalhoub and ran from 2002-09 on USA Network were delighted to learn the character would be revived for a TV movie on Peacock. The result is nearly a perfect film.
Why just nearly? A perfect film introduces characters and situations and takes them to conclusion of a story. A nearly perfect film, like this one, can rely on the audience’s knowledge of those elements and advance them. (This is why those who say “The Godfather Part II” or “The Empire Strikes Back” are superior to the originals are, simply, wrong).
But “Mr. Monk” is funny, intriguing, dramatic and – given what’s occurred in this decade – extremely timely. It’s hard to imagine it being better.
9. The Johnny Carson Show
If you are of a certain age – by that, I mean too young to have watched The Tonight Show in its prime – Peacock has 20 years worth of treats for you. It is labeled the Carson show so as not to confuse anyone with later iterations featuring Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon, but there is no mistaking there was no better time for the program.
Beginning with his 10th season, in 1972, and continuing to his 1992 retirement, there are episodes designated as featuring specific comedians – George Carlin, or Bob Newhart, or Steve Martin – and that demonstrate how a typical episode worked. It’s not every show from every year; it’s not even most of them. But there’s a healthy dose of brilliance in all of it.
10. Days of Our Lives
OK, I’ll confess: I’ve been watching Days for more than three years, a product of quarantine period of the COVID-19 pandemic. My wife started it, and gradually I got sucked into it, and now we catch up each weekday through the year. And though it had been on NBC longer than almost anything – this is season 59 – it has been exclusively available on Peacock since September 2022.
So if you think football fans are getting a tough deal because of one playoff game, imagine those who’d followed the adventures of Dr. Marlena Evans and police commissioner Raef Hernandez and mayor Abe Carver for decades.
Now, that’s some serious drama.