Free NBC App

5 Things to Know Before You Download the Free NBC App

There’s something different about the NBC app compared to similar apps from ABC, CBS and FOX — and it’s good for cord cutters

I tested out the free NBC app and discovered why it still may be worth downloading, even as NBCUniversal is putting more energy into the Peacock streaming service.

In this article and the video below, I review the five things to know about the NBC app. Let’s get started!

1. What Does the NBC App Offer?

The NBC app features live and on-demand content from NBCUniversal’s networks, including NBC, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, MSNBC and USA.

You’ll need to sign in with a pay TV provider (cable, satellite or a live TV streaming service) to view live feeds of NBC and its cable networks, but there is one exception. NBC News Now is free to all users.

A pay TV login gives you access to all of the on-demand content as well. However, select shows and movies are available 100% free to everyone.

You can download the NBC app on your phone or stream it to a TV set with a compatible device like a Roku. The content is also available to stream on NBC.com.

2. When Are New Episodes Released? 

NBC says on its website that new episodes hit the app shortly after they air on TV, usually the next day during the early morning hours.

To stream the entire on-demand library, you’ll need a pay TV login. For my testing, I didn’t link a live TV streaming service and only streamed what’s available without a pay TV subscription.

What I learned is that the latest NBC episodes are unlocked eight days after they air for everyone to watch.

However, shows from NBCUniversal’s cable networks like Bravo are not unlocked after eight days. 

To unlock episodes, you must either sign in with a pay TV provider or redeem a credit.

3. How Do Credits Work?

The NBC app is unique because it offers a one-time grant of three credits to view on-demand content without a pay TV subscription.

When you create an NBCUniversal profile with your email address, you’ll receive the credits to stream any three locked episodes. Credits do not expire, but there is no way to purchase additional credits.

My advice is to save your credits for shows that air on NBCUniversal’s cable networks, not NBC.

Remember: If it’s an NBC show, you can always wait eight days for it to be unlocked or check Peacock to see if it’s available on the free tier.

Hulu is another place to find next day content from NBC and other broadcast networks. It starts at $5.99 a month.

4. Is There Any Other Free Content?

The NBC app features a Watch for Free section on its home screen to quickly identify content that doesn’t require a pay TV login.

Titles include Law and Order, Debris, Dateline, Young Rock, House and more. But don’t expect to find every episode of any particular series.

I found that sometimes an entire season is unlocked, but other times it’s only five episodes or less.

What’s locked and what’s unlocked can get complicated, but it’s more straightforward for the newest NBC shows that are in their first season.

For those shows, the latest episodes are all unlocked. 

5. How Bad Are the Ads?

The on-demand content that I’ve streamed from the NBC app has a relatively high number of ads, whether that’s shows from NBC or one of the NBCUniversal cable networks.

Using the NBC app, I streamed an episode of Dateline and jotted down the ads. Each break was two minutes long.

That same episode of Dateline was also available on Peacock with half the ads.

Since its launch, Peacock has said it will carry five minutes of ads or less per hour, even on the free tier. 

So if a show is on the NBC app and Peacock, I would stream it on Peacock for fewer ads.

Final Thoughts 

A lot of people who streamed the NBC app in the past have probably made their way over to Peacock — and that’s not a bad thing.

Peacock has a lot more content and a better user experience.

But the NBC app is still relevant as long as it continues to offer those three credits and additional free content. 

For more ways to save on streaming TV, check out my YouTube channel.


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