Mediacom offers a decent value in TV, but it’s far from perfect. First, you must bundle it with internet—standalone TV isn’t available. A thin sports selection and lots of fees also hurt. That said, Mediacom internet isn’t bad, so if you’re going with that, it probably makes sense to go with Mediacom TV, too.
Home to greats like The Office, Parks & Rec, Real Housewives, and Law & Order, Peacock has some great content at a price we loved. But our hands-on testing revealed that its channel lineup was disappointing and couldn’t fully replace a more expensive live TV streaming service like Fubo or YouTube TV.
Mediacom offers pretty standard fare to its TV customers. It's not wonderful, but it isn't horrible either. Depending on your chosen package, you get 50+, 125+, or 170+ channels, along with internet speeds up to 1 Gbps. The channel selection is good, with popular networks available. Channel selection varies quite a bit based on where you live.
While your exact channel lineup depends on your exact address, Mediacom does a decent job of providing local channels in most of the markets it serves. You can get your standard CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX channels at the lowest package price, and often a handful of other local options like PBS and Antenna TV (but not Telemundo and Estrella). For local news, sports, and network TV in English, Mediacom is a decent option.
We don’t usually recommend Mediacom TV for households that watch a lot of sports. While you can get Fox Sports 1 and TNT plus your local channels for some pro games, the Golf Channel and NFL Networks are available only as add-ons and there’s no MLB coverage available at all. You'll need the third tier for ESPN, TUDN, and most regional sports networks.
Family and education: 3.5/5
It’s possible to get a great selection of family and educational shows from Mediacom TV, but some of the best options aren’t available in any package tier. Instead, for channels like Smithsonian, Science, Nat Geo Wild, and the Cooking Channel, you have to pay extra every month for the “Kids and Variety Digital Pak.” It’s unusual to have to pay extra for family-friendly shows that come standard with most cable TV competitors.
News and politics: 4/5
Mediacom has a lot to offer when it comes to news, but it's not available in the basic package. At the second tier, you get CNN and Fox News, but you have to bump up to the third tier for MSNBC, Newsmax, CNBC, and Fox Business. If you go with the “Sports & Information Digital Pak,” you can also catch Cheddar News, BBC News, Bloomberg, and China Global Television Network.
Entertainment and lifestyle 3.5/5
From blockbuster movies to reality TV and travel shows, Mediacom has a lot of the most popular channels available. The only caveats are that you may have to pay add-on prices for channels like HBO and Reelz, and these prices tend to be more expensive than what you would find with national cable TV competitors. The premium channels are also usually more expensive than going with streaming services from each brand name.
Peacock TV is different from other streaming services because it focuses on only NBC content. NBC has a little something for everyone though, so we were able to rate all five content categories. But instead of basing our ratings on the channels Peacock offers, we focused on the shows themselves.
If you’ve had cable TV or another live TV streaming service like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, or fubo, you might see Peacock’s channel lineup and snort out loud. And you’d be totally within your rights. Most of Peacock’s “live” TV channels just play reruns of specific shows all day and night. You can’t control which episode you watch or when you start one, nor are you getting brand new content. It’s kind of the worst of both the live TV and on-demand worlds.
Our advice? Get Peacock TV for the sports, day-old NBC shows, and movies—not for the channels.
If you spring for the $10 per month subscription, you’ll get your local NBC channel. Otherwise, you won’t. If you live in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, South Florida, Boston, or Los Angeles, you’re in luck. You’ll get a local NBC news channel. If you live elsewhere, you won’t get any content local to you.
Peacock Premium and Peacock Premium Plus have some great sports content too. You’ll get a bit of everything, from soccer to golf to cycling to NASCAR to Sunday Night Football—all live or on-demand, depending on when you log in to watch. You also get the Olympics, of course, but these won’t be live. So if you like to stay up til three in the morning to watch your favorite curling team sweep their hearts out, consider this your permission to sleep in and catch all the bonspiels (that’s curling-speak for games) during normal waking hours. Oh, and if classic WWF matches are your jam (wait, is that just us?), Peacock has a channel that plays them 24/7/365.
Family and education: 3.5/5
Peacock has some great family-friendly movies and finding them is super easy. Create a kids profile, and it’ll be packed with Dreamworks movies like Turbo, Shrek, and Shark Tale alongside shows like Blippi, Strawberry Shortcake, and Trolls: The Beat Goes On. Plus, you can dress to the nines in your living room and join the Gentleminions movement without besmirching your polite theater-goer reputation.
News and politics: 2.5/5
Peacock has some strong news content in addition to its six local news channels. You’ll get a 24/7 Dateline channel, Today All Day, Sky News, and LX News. If you’re looking to get a sample of headlines and stories, it’s great. But all news programs are created by NBC, so you may not get the variety of perspectives you’re looking for. We like to see Peacock as a supplemental way to get news coverage, we prefer to get our news elsewhere.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 5/5
NBC has some award-winning shows, both new and old. From The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks & Rec to Blacklist, all the Saturday Night Live, and Real Housewives, there’s some great content to watch on Peacock. If you work your way through all the episodes of these shows before you’re done binge-watching (though we’d be surprised if you did), you can pick from classics like Dennis the Menace, reruns of Jimmy Fallon, and more.
Mediacom offers reasonable value to TV customers. It’s not the most affordable TV provider and doesn’t offer the highest channel count or fastest internet speeds, but it’s also not outrageously expensive. It’s just…reasonable. The average price per channel is a little higher than most, and the company offers about two-thirds of the nation’s top 100 channels, which is a little worse than average.
It’s worth noting that Mediacom does not offer a standalone TV service. That means you have to pay for Mediacom internet if you want Mediacom TV, with plans (which go up after the first year) starting at $69 per month. There’s also a modem fee, a broadcast fee, and a regional sports fee to worry about. In our tests, the average monthly bill was about $50 more than the original quoted price.
Peacock is a great deal, and it’s one of the cheapest TV streaming apps. Peacock gives you access to arguably some of the greatest shows on TV, solid news coverage, and a great sports lineup—especially international sports.
It’s a ton of value, but we recommend considering it an addition to a more complete live streaming option like Sling or Hulu + Live TV—especially since Peacock doesn’t give you access to NBC/Universal’s live stations, like CNBC, MSNBC, or, well, NBC. That means you can’t watch live episodes of The Voice with your friends. Instead, you can get them on Peacock the next day—after your co-workers passive-aggressively feed you spoilers. Womp-womp.
Peacock TV has three versions. The free version is kind of like a teaser for the paid versions. You get to watch a few new shows and a bunch of channels packed with syndicated reruns, all while drooling over all the shows you’d get if you coughed up the cash for the paid version. The next step up, Peacock Premium, is a great buy at $5 per month. You get all the content Peacock has to offer, and the commercials were surprisingly low-key.
Finally, the premium tier is Peacock Premium Plus. It’s twice the price and, in our opinion, rarely worth the cost. You get the same content with fewer commercials and the ability to download shows to watch offline (but no ability to DVR live content). It’s pretty meh.
The everyday experience with Mediacom TV is about average compared to other TV services we review. We like the familiarity of the TiVo system, just wish it cost less every month.
Ability to watch: Great
Watching shows and games on Mediacom TV is a pretty standard experience. You can channel surf, record to DVR, and catch a lot of shows and games in HD. It’s easy to see what’s coming up next without leaving your current show, and we like how the set-top box learns what you like and changes its suggestions at different times of day. You can even use your login on different platforms with the Mediacom TV Everywhere service or watch from your mobile phone on Mediacom’s Xtream mobile app.
Ability to record: Great
Remember TiVo? Well, it lives on with Mediacom as the provider’s DVR of choice. Mediacom subscribers get a TiVo DVR box that can record up to 150 hours of HD content (or 1,000 hours of standard definition), which should be plenty for most users.
We particularly like bonus features like QuickMode, which lets you speed up live TV by 30%. It means you can easily get caught up if you start a show or game late. Monthly DVR access fees are pricey and you can’t upgrade your DVR, but once you get the DVR set up and start using it, we think you’ll be pleased with the experience.
Ability to find: Great
From the TV guide on your screen to your Xtream remote, Mediacom makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. We particularly like the voice remote, which lets you ask for a specific show, genre, or channel. It even works with your DVR library and separate streaming apps (but a few extra steps may be required). Parental controls are pretty standard and seem to work well. We only wish the mobile app were more highly rated.
Peacock makes watching and finding content a wonderful experience. You can’t DVR anything, but with so much on-demand content, we didn’t feel much need to anyway.
Ability to watch: Great
Peacock delivers a solid watching experience in both its app and browser versions. Something Peacock TV does really well is let you jump between devices in the middle of watching a show. It easily picked up where we left off when we switched from a computer to the phone app to TV and back again, whether we were watching live or on-demand content. For some streaming services, (we’re looking at you, Sling TV) switching devices mid-stream can get glitchy fast. So well done, Peacock!
In other ways, Peacock wasn’t as easy as some of the other live TV streaming services we tested, especially on our phones. We were bummed that we couldn’t multitask: there was no mini video we could watch while firing off an email or answering a text.
Ability to record: Fine
No matter which Peacock plan you get, you’ll never be able to record live shows. There’s no DVR capability, but we’re not sure you’d need it. Most of the content we wanted to record was available on-demand anyway (except for live sporting events). And if you spring for Peacock Premium Plus (the highest-cost plan), you can download on-demand shows to watch offline later. We’d probably skip the upgrade, though. We liked the idea for long flights or keeping the kiddos entertained at the car wash, but we didn’t find a ton more uses for this pared-back feature.
Ability to find: Great
Peacock makes it pretty easy to find the shows you want. Its interface is intuitive and it easily tracks where you left off, even when switching between devices. Parental controls are also super easy and effective. Just create a kids profile for quick access to only children's shows. You can also set up a PIN to keep the little ones restricted to these kid-friendly profiles. As a bonus, parents’ profiles won’t be bogged down with Curious George or Blippi episodes. (Although we’d probably keep a kids profile around just for all the Dreamworks movies.)
There are a few ways Peacock could improve its usability though. For starters, the app made us browse shows and channels in portrait mode, then flipped us to landscape mode to watch, which was annoying. Additionally, there’s no “back” button on the app, so if you get a few clicks into browsing for on-demand shows, you have to hit the Home button and start all over if you want to back out. (If you’re using a browser, you can hit its back button.)
There’s a “back” button on the live TV side of things, but, oddly, it doesn’t take you back a step. Instead, it brings up the channel guide on the bottom half of the screen while your show keeps playing. We liked being able to browse while catching up on the news, but it was confusing at first.
The only real gripe we had about using Peacock TV on a browser was that a lot of the descriptive text (like the channel guide and show descriptions) disappeared faster than we could read it, which meant we had to keep moving the mouse to get it back. It was a minor annoyance, but we’d love to see this fixed in the future. We’re not all speed readers, Liz Lemon.
Ability to share: Great
You can make up to six profiles on Peacock, which is a decent amount, and making new profiles is super easy. Beyond the basics, Peacock has some fun extras that delighted us. We loved picking profile avatars using headshots of our favorite NBC characters (hello Ron Swanson!).
We also confirmed that you can stream only three devices at once on Peacock. When you try to add the fourth, you’re alerted (by the adorable Puss in Boots from Shrek giving you those big, precious eyes in apology). You don’t have to worry about kicking anyone else off their show—but you can’t choose to either. You’ll have to kick them off the old-fashioned way, with a text, phone call, or shout down the hall.
Installation of your new Mediacom service will cost at least $35, and there’s no option to self-install. This fee can sometimes be waived with certain promotions, and we highly recommend hunting one down or discussing it with your sales rep. There’s also a $10 activation fee that’ll show up on your first bill.
The first TiVo DVR is included in your monthly price, but you'll have to pay at least $15 per month to use it. Additional boxes cost about $9 per month. Finally, since you have to bundle with internet, you’ll be on the hook for a $14 modem fee each month, plus broadcast and sports surcharges. There’s also a standard $10 monthly fee for an eero Wi-Fi router system, but you might be able to get it free with certain promotions.
There are also contracts to worry about, and they can be for 12, 24, or 36 months. Depending on how many months left in your contract, you could be charged up to $240 if you quit early.
The upsides are that Mediacom is available where a lot of other providers aren’t, and customer service scores are about average among cable TV providers.
Peacock’s website is easy to navigate and it’s super easy to see right on the home page exactly how much a subscription will cost you. It also has a well-organized help page, though you’ll have to scroll to the website’s footer to find your way there. You can ask the chat bot for help, but to get more personalized service, you have to sign into your account.
Unfortunately, getting a live person to help isn’t as easy. There’s no phone number displayed, and the “Get in Touch” button just takes you to more self-help articles. To speak with an actual person via chat, you have to click into a help article, then click “No” to answer the question “Was this article helpful," and answer a feedback survey. Ugh.
That said, we had little genuine reason to seek out customer service because everything worked well, checkout was simple and transparent, and it was easy to cancel.