November 2, 2020
AppleTV+ Captures Halloween Classic
If the past few months have been any indication, the long-prognosticate future of streaming media is “now.” For some time, pundits and market watchers have predicted that entertainment media would reach a tipping point where more people were streaming their media than watching it on cable or even at the cinema. Thanks to pandemic restrictions and timely moves by streaming companies, that timetable appears to have been accelerated.
Some said, perhaps accurately, that the die was cast the moment Disney debuted Disney+, dropping nearly all of its catalog, as well as its subsidiary properties, Marvel and Star Wars, onto an excited and incredibly dedicated fan base. From that moment on, streaming brands started snapping up properties to make their own. While Netflix continued to bet big on original programming and Amazon and Hulu tried to expand their mix of original programming and purchased properties, AppleTV+ stormed onto the scene in November 2019 with the deep pockets and international name recognition of the Apple brand.
But, a year in, while Netflix acquired Cobra Kai, aired a new season of Stranger Things, and Disney+ teased a new season of the wildly popular Mandalorian, what could they go after? What would give viewers a reason to buy another streaming app? What’s the incentive? Apple had to answer these questions quickly if it wanted to take advantage of the current marketplace opportunities. Enter the holiday season. With parades canceled and some COVID restrictions still in place, many people counted on their favorite holiday TV favorites to give 2020 some semblance of normalcy.
AppleTV+ leadership clearly saw this coming, so they snapped up some of the most beloved animated holiday classics: The Peanuts series, which includes the Halloween themed special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” which was advertised as streaming “exclusively” on the AppleTV+ app for free through Halloween weekend.
Despite the “free” price point, longtime Peanuts fans were not amused, even invoking the name of the series’ creator, Charles Schulz, to castigate Apple for its decision to, as the critics put it, place Peanuts “on the wrong side of the digital divide.” Some even got together to form a petition, which states:
“For over 50 years, we have celebrated the holidays with the airings of the Peanuts holiday specials on TV – first on CBS, then on ABC. To our shock and dismay, last night it was announced that Apple had swiped the football from us and claimed the specials for their ?Apple TV? platform, leaving us devoted fans who have grown up with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang in the dark, unable to watch.”
Initially, Apple ignored the criticism, simply posting the schedule for follow-up Peanuts holiday specials, including “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” While the former will be free to all viewers over the Thanksgiving holiday, the latter will only be free for a few days in mid-December. As of this writing, that’s been the only response to the critique. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out for the young streaming platform.