For the rest of 2020, the animated Peanuts holiday specials will only be available to stream on Apple TV+ — not on network TV as usual. That includes It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Apple is making these specials free even for non-subscribers around the holidays, but even so, some Peanuts fans are not happy.
Apple TV+ announced the significant shift in Peanuts holiday specials on Monday, explaining that it is part of an "expanded partnership with WildBrain," Peanuts Worldwide and Lee Mendelson Film Productions — the companies with the intellectual property rights to the Peanuts. Apple already had deals in place to make new Charlie Brown content, so this move makes sense for all the companies. However, for many viewers, the yearly airing of the specials on ABC is traditional and "sacred," in a way, and moving it to a streaming service cheapens the experience.
The Charlie Brown Halloween special is streaming on Apple TV+ now for subscribers, but Apple is making all of them free to view for non-subscribers around their respective holidays. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will be free from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, while A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will be free from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27. It will be available to subscribers from Nov. 18 onward.
A Charlie Brown Christmas will be added to Apple TV+ on Dec. 4 and free for non-subscribers from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13. Despite the easy access, critics still argued that this was a tactic to draw new subscribers into the streaming service, sullying the classic holiday experience. Many on social media also argued that these 50+-year-old cartoons should not be used to draw a profit after all these years.
Apple TV+ has already had immense success with Snoopy in Space and has planned another project called The Snoopy Show. The company is now working on new holiday specials as well, including the Peanuts gang's celebrations of Mother's Day, Earth Day and New Year's Eve.
While some are grumbling, the gambit might pay off well for Apple TV+, which entered the streaming arena around the same time as Disney+. The service costs $4.99 per month and is available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices — unlike many of its competitors. Peanuts fans can watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and other Peanuts content on Apple TV+ now.