Why You Can’t Watch ‘It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ On ABC This Year

For kids (and even older fans of the cartoon classic), it may seem like the TV equivalent of getting rocks instead of treats in your Halloween bag.

This year, the trick-or-treat classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown won’t air on broadcast. Instead, it will stream on AppleTV+, first available only to subscribers and then opening up to everyone for a three-day span starting next week.

The special, which debuted on CBS VIAC +0.3% in 1966, is the latest example of the increasing crossover in competition between traditional television and streaming services. Whereas a couple decades ago the battle over content rights pitted broadcast versus cable, today that fight has moved online. And the Peanuts gang will hardly be the last to feel the impact.

In both fights, the conflict occurs between free and paid TV services. Broadcast networks like ABC and CBS are available free over the air to anyone with a TV antenna. But customers have to pay for cable and streaming. To convince people to shell out money for these services, companies need good content.

With cable and now streaming increasingly motivated to pay creators big dollars for that content, you can expect more and more of it to migrate away from broadcast.

For a service like AppleTV+, which arguably hasn’t earned the buzz of fellow new competitors that have launched in the past 18 months, such as HBO Max and Disney+, a highly sought-after piece of content can secure badly needed subscribers.

Fresh content has been at even more of a premium recently, as the pandemic shut down filming of new shows for months. While the industry is slowly starting up again, the pipeline is not as full as it usually would be heading into fall.

So how did AppleTV+ win rights to It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? The service recently signed a deal that encompasses all Peanuts content, including a new special on the 70th anniversary of the brand and new program The Snoopy Show.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown began streaming for all AppleTV+ subscribers on Monday. It will be made available for free to anyone on October 30 through November 1—a nice enticement for those who may not have heard of AppleTV+ or may be on the fence about subscribing.

As you might guess, ABC, which started carrying the Peanuts specials in 2001, won’t have the rights to the popular A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving or A Charlie Brown Christmas, either.

Thanksgiving will bow on AppleTV+ for subscribers on November 18 and be available for free on November 25 to 27. And Christmas comes out December 4 on AppleTV+ for subscribers, with the free period from December 11 to 13.

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