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It's "cruel" that broadcast TV lost It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and other Peanuts specials

  • Starting this year, the only way to see It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas is on Apple TV+ after those specials were available for free on network TV for decades. "It is a gargantuan understatement to note that there are far bigger issues to be upset about right now than the relegation of children’s animated shows to a subscription streaming service, especially since Apple TV+, at least for this year, plans to make the specials available free to nonsubscribers for short windows of time around Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas," says Jen Chaney. "But I am still upset about it. Evidently, I am not alone; (more than) 200,000 people signed a Change.org petition demanding that the specials be restored to the more accessible airwaves. Is the semi-absence of Linus and his obsession with a sizable winter squash as pressing as the upcoming election or the rise in coronavirus case numbers? Of course not. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s this: It is possible to be outraged and distraught about a vast number of things at the same time. There are a few reasons why this decision, sprung upon an unsuspecting public midway through October, when they were just blissfully assuming they’d be able to watch Charlie Brown say 'I got a rock' at some point before Halloween, is upsetting. The Peanuts holiday shows are a long-standing tradition. Yes, for quite some time, you’ve been able to watch them on DVD or Blu-ray, but the fact that they would be broadcast often twice before the relevant holidays they commemorate made them available to everyone, regardless of whether they could afford a streaming subscription or a device that provides access to Apple TV+. As long as you had access to a television of any kind and a basic antenna, you and your family could watch. While it’s nice that Apple is offering some amount of complimentary access to these shows, that still isn’t enough to make them accessible to everyone. The pandemic has made what should have been clear long ago abundantly so: that some families cannot afford the same technological luxuries — and yes, that includes things as seemingly basic as high-speed internet and Wi-Fi — as everyone else. Given the financial hardships that the pandemic has wrought, even more people may be cutting back on unnecessary expenses, including digital devices and subscriptions. Watching The Great Pumpkin or A Charlie Brown Christmas is a ritual for a lot of Americans, one that parents — or at least baby-boomer, Gen-X, and some millennial parents who grew up watching them — relish sharing with their children. To take away that ritual during a year that has been filled with so much turmoil and heartbreak, when even trivial customs have felt sacred and special, just seems cruel."


    • Apple TV+ making Peanuts specials streaming-only only hurts viewers: "The big disadvantage to AppleTV+ having the rights to the Peanuts holiday specials is that the service is not under the same obligations as ABC is to keep them available to the public," says  Emily VanDerWerff. "ABC is, by definition, a broadcast network. If you are able to get a US TV signal — even for free, via an antenna — you will almost certainly be able to get ABC. That fact will always be true. Thus, as long as the Peanuts specials aired on ABC, nearly everybody in the US had access to them. AppleTV+ can make no such promises about access to its content. Sure, the Peanuts holiday specials will be widely available for free for a limited time this year, and Apple will surely continue using this approach as a marketing tactic for at least a few more years, as it tries to convince consumers it has a streaming service they might want to sample. But there’s nothing stopping Apple from just deciding, whenever it wants, to stop offering a free distribution window. It could even reverse its decision this year, without much explanation or warning (that is unlikely to happen, but it could)."
    • What it's like to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with a 5-year-old in 2020

    TOPICS: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, ABC, Apple TV+, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, Holiday Programming, Peanuts, Thanksgiving