Even Mario and Twisted Metal can't help Peacock compete with Netflix

An awe-struck Mario looks around the Mushroom Kingdom in The Super Mario Bros. Movie
The Super Mario Bros. Movie made its exclusive streaming debut on Peacock. (Image credit: Nintendo/Illumination)

In the era of streaming, it's becoming increasingly futile for some of the world's best streaming services to usurp Netflix.

The streaming giant is apparently unrivalled when it comes to the amount of content available on its platform and the size of its subscriber base. Only Prime Video's reported 200 million and Disney Plus' 157.8 million-strong user bases come close to matching Netflix's unparalleled 238.4 million subscribers. On the movie and TV show lineup front, Prime Video is the only service that arguably competes with Netflix for the amount of first- and third-party content in its back catalog.

Less popular streaming services, such as Peacock, seemingly don't stand a chance in the race to become the world's biggest platform, then. And, based on recent data, the Comcast-NBCUniversal-owned streamer's increasingly excellent film and TV show libraries are doing little to help it rein in its nearby rivals, let alone Netflix.

A screenshot of the logo for the Peacock streaming service

Peacock continues to lag way behind its streaming rivals. (Image credit: NBC Universal)

As reported by The Verge in late July, Comcast's Q2 2023 earnings report revealed that Peacock's userbase increased by a meagre two million subscribers. That small growth saw Peacock's subscriber total rise to just 24 million. For context, that figure represents 10% of Netflix's global fanbase.

Immediately, the task in front of Peacock – that being, its desire to overhaul Netflix and company – appears insurmountable. Peacock only launched in July 2020, meaning it's one of the newest platforms on the market (Paramount Plus is the baby of the bunch, with this streamer arriving in March 2021). As such, Peacock has 13 years' of catching up to do to (well, try and) catch Netflix – a lofty goal that appears a pipe dream at best.

Yet, Peacock should be faring far better than it is. Over the past 12 months, the streamer's back catalog has started to resemble one that can compete with its rivals in the original film and TV series stakes.

For starters, The Super Mario Bros. Movie – one of only two $1 billion-spinning movies of 2023 (the other being Barbie) – is only available to stream on Peacock. The hugely successful animated film's platform exclusivity is a huge boon for Peacock and, in theory, should give its subscriber base the boost it needs. So far, though, it doesn't seem to have done so.

Charlie Cale looks concerned as she looks out of a car's passenger-side window in Peacock's Poker Face

Poker Face is a fantastic TV show that's exclusive to Peacock. (Image credit: Peacock)

But it's not just the Mario show on Peacock. There are numerous great (and admittedly not-so-great) Universal Pictures-developed movies that are worth your time. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the Halloween film franchise, the Shrek movie series, the Harry Potter collection, Polite Society, the Fast & Furious films... the list is endless. With the likes of Wes Anderson's Asteroid City and the Five Nights at Freddy's film adaptation joining Peacock on August 11 and October 27, too, the platform's movie library will only grow stronger.

There are plenty of other underappreciated TV-based gems available on Peacock as well. Twisted Metal, another video game series that's been turned into an exclusive Peacock TV show, has been received better than anticipated. On Rotten Tomatoes, the Anthony Mackie-starring apocalyptic comedy holds 70% critical and 94% audience scores, so its first season has clearly resonated with viewers. Add in other critically-acclaimed series including Poker Face, Mrs Davis, Bel-Air, and A Friend in the Family, and Peacock's original TV slate is surprisingly underrated.

So, what gives? Why is Peacock struggling to attract viewers despite its impressive lineup? Thanks to a licensing deal between Netflix and Comcast, some of the aforementioned movies are also strangely available on the former in select world regions. The addition of some Fast and Furious movies to Netflix US recently, for instance, is a classic example of Comcast shooting itself in the foot. Why allow a streaming rival to show your films when they could be used as a way of enticing new customers to sign up to Peacock instead?

Then there's Peacock's price point. Admittedly, Comcast's streaming service is one of the most affordable, even if it saw its first price rise since launch recently. Peacock's ad-free Premium subscription tier costs just $5.99 a month / $59.99 a year, which makes it cheaper than Netflix's ad-supported plan ($6.99 per month). However, when Netflix's back catalog is as large as it is, paying an extra dollar per month makes it more cost effective – especially amid a cost of living crisis and when some Universal movies are also available on its service.

If Peacock really wants audiences to sit up and take notice, its parent company needs to re-evaluate what makes it an attractive streamer in the first place. Start promoting Peacock more in the US (and make sure UK customers know that they can get it at no extra cost if they sign up to Sky or Now TV). Bring back Peacock's free trial, so users can see how good its movie and TV libraries are, and potentially subscribe once they see how strong its original content is. And, contradictory as it would be to do, given Comcast just raised Peacock's prices, knock a dollar of its monthly fee to make it the cheapest streamer around. Decide against one or all of these solutions and Peacock will continue to be viewed as the runt of the streaming family.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across. Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.