The End Of A Tradition: Peanuts Christmas Special Will No Longer Air on Television
By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer
Due to a new partnership with AppleTV+, the beloved A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS special will no longer air on national television.
The streaming service earned exclusive rights to the cartoon in a new partnership with WildBrain, Peanuts Worldwide and Lee Mendelson Film Productions. The special is available on the streaming platform, but canceling the live television broadcast will end a tradition of more than 50 years.
On Dec. 9, 1965, over 15 million households tuned in to the first animated adaptation of Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts comic strip. What the network expected to be a flop turned into a huge success.
CBS learned that almost half of American television sets had watched the Christmas special when it was first broadcast.
It was a huge pay-off for a network that worried cartoonist Charles Schultz’s demand to include the Gospel message at the end of the program would ruin the special.
“We told Schulz, ‘Look, you can’t read from the Bible on network television,'”executive producer Lee Mendelson said. “When we finished the show and watched it, [animator Bill] Melendez and I looked at each other and I said, ‘We’ve ruined Charlie Brown.'”
They were wrong.
Every year since then, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Sally, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, and other precious characters appeared on TV screens in December to talk about the real meaning of Christmas.
The special succeeded in sharing the Gospel message with a broad audience. Schultz, who died in 2000, had confidence that including the biblical story would not hurt the show’s success.
Linus quotes the Bible after his best friend, Charlie Brown, wonders if anyone knows what Christmas is truly about:
Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone’ round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Though the special will not be available on basic television, viewers can see it on AppleTV+. The service is $4.99/month, but the company revealed that viewers will be able to enjoy the Peanuts holiday specials for free on select days.
IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN, will be available for free from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING is coming to Apple TV+ on Nov. 18 and will be available for free from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS will debut on Dec. 4 and be available for free from Dec. 11 until Dec. 13.