Apple loosens its grip on a Christmas classic

From “Apple, After Outcry, Makes ‘Peanuts’ Holiday Specials Available on PBS” in Friday’s New York Times:

It was all too fitting that an anti-commercialism Christmas classic, broadcast over the public airwaves every year since 1965, would be sidelined in 2020 to a paid streaming service operated by a tech giant.

Such was the widespread reaction in October when Apple TV Plus obtained the exclusive rights to the “Peanuts” catalog, including the widely beloved “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” not to mention “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” It meant families could no longer watch the holiday specials on ABC — they would have to be streamed on the service Apple has been pushing since its debut last November.

To many, including the more than 260,000 people who signed a petition, it was a theft of holiday traditions befitting of grinches and blockheads, even though Apple would make the specials available for free for a few days under its agreement with the companies that own “Peanuts.”

On Wednesday, Apple eased its grip on the shows, announcing a deal that would allow PBS to show ad-free versions of the Thanksgiving special on Sunday and the Christmas special on Dec. 13. The announcement did not say whether the specials would return to public television after 2020.

But for this year, at least, it was the kind of tale that may have fit in the 1965 Christmas special, long praised as being ahead of its time in its anti-consumerism message. In the 25-minute production — spoilers ahead, if you haven’t gotten around to watching it in the past 55 years — Charlie Brown, dealing with a bit of seasonal depression, confesses he just can’t catch the Christmas fever like everyone else.

My take: Good recovery from a rookie mistake.

See also: Free for Halloween and Thanksgiving but not Christmas, what’s with that?


  1. David Emery said:
    I was thinking: Running some of Apple TV’s other properties on PBS might well be good for both sides. PBS would get some quality programming, while Apple would get some exposure for those shows outside of its “walled garden” (plus presumably a tax write-off…)

    November 20, 2020
    • David Drinkwater said:
      Year-End Charity an Tax Planning!

      Good stuff.

      November 20, 2020

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