Peanuts and the Streaming Service Race

Where’s the Great Pumpkin?

Maya Gasca, Editor

On October 19, 2020, it was announced that “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will no longer be shown on television channels like ABC. So, to watch this special, as well as other Charlie Brown specials, such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” or “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” look to AppleTV+, a steaming service made by the Apple company. A subscription to this service will allow access to these specialsAppleTV+ will also stream these specials for free for a limited time during the holidays. 

When this was announced, I, as well as a number of people across the U.S., became very frustrated and upset that we won’t be able to see this special as we have for the past several years. 

However, I soon began to reflect on the reactions to this piece of news. There was so much upset, even from me, but should we have reacted as we did? Yes, this special is beloved by many, and we are entitled to our opinions about not seeing it, but this wasn’t the first time that people have been outraged about a show and a streaming service. Earlier last month upset was caused by the removal of the show Parks and Recreation from Hulu and Netflix with the rise of the streaming service “Peacock,” owned by NBC. And famously, “Friends,” has been passed around back and forth for the past few years around numerous streaming services, with all 10 seasons currently streaming on HBO Max. Popular shows and movies are constantly being taken to be watched exclusively on these apps and services. 

As of 2020, streaming services have surged across the entertainment industry. And though this way of watching television and movies has been a concept since even the late 90s, and services like Netflix and Hulu have been popular since the 2000s, the past year has introduced multiple new services that have been competing with both cable TV, and each other.  

This could have happened for a number of reasons. For one, technology has just been moving on from normal cable television. Be it the rise of smart TVs being the norm, as well as increasing cable prices (even as a kid this was a pretty common problem), you can’t talk about watching TV or movies without hearing the names of streaming services.  

Another reason could be the release of Disney+. Though this company has had a large presence within this industry before, being the owners of Hulu and ESPN, their new app released in November of last year not only showed how much money could be made by a subscription service but also showed the beginnings of shows and movies being taken from previous services. People looking for certain Disney shows or movies on apps like Netflix or Amazon Prime would be mistaken, as Disney would make them Disney+ exclusive. Thus, more money could be made as people would pay for Disney+ just to watch that special show or movie. 

Lastly, and most obviously, is quarantine. Whether or not these apps would have released this year, these new streaming services knew they would have to take advantage of everyone staying home and in need of entertainment to binge.  

Whatever the reason, new streaming services and apps like Peacock, AppleTV+, and Quibi have been released this year. With these releases, there have been numerous copyright and ownership claims in order to stock their apps. Thus, familiar media we know and love are only exclusively on these apps, cable or not, from several of the Disney movies, to “Friends,” to the Charlie Brown holiday specials. 

So, am I unhappy that I couldn’t watch Charlie Brown during Halloween on cable TV like usual? Absolutely. But do I think this was some sort of atrocity? No. Though I believe that this decision by Apple was unfairit ultimately was a bold and smart move. Claiming the rights to a property as popular as Peanuts would allow them to get more money from people who want to relive the nostalgia of watching this special, just like every other streaming serviceSo even though this was a huge upset, it’s best to keep in mind that this probably won’t be the last we hear of apps and streaming services claiming properties to get ahead in the race of entertainment.