A Not So Charlie Brown Christmas (Unless You Subscribe to Apple TV+)

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash.

For many, a cherished holiday tradition involves sitting curled up on the couch with a warm hot chocolate, preparing to watch a movie marathon of Charlie Brown Christmas movies with friends and family.  However, this year’s holiday season might look a little bit different due to a deal made between Apple TV+, Peanuts Worldwide and Lee Mendelson Film Productions. As CBS reports, this agreement is exclusive in nature, meaning that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965), “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (1973) as well as “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966) will now only be available on Apple TV+.  Besides these already beloved classics, Apple TV+ will also be getting new originals featuring the “Peanuts” characters.  For a limited and short time, these movies will be available for free on the streaming platform; however, after this brief period, the fans of the “Peanuts” films will have to pay to watch their favourite characters on the small screen.  Many fans are upset about this new agreement with a petition of over 100,000 signatures demanding that the Peanuts specials be brought back to broadcast TV.

This exclusive deal is just one example of how the streaming world, especially amidst COVID-19, is changing the landscape of the TV and film industry.  The memories and traditions of the broadcasting world are slowly dwindling away as new streaming services enter the market and try to strike up the most exclusive and lucrative contracts possible.  From Netflix to Crave to Disney+ to Apple TV+, there is no shortage of content to watch, making it even more imperative for these streaming sites to secure exclusive rights to fan-favourite shows and movies.  It appears that these types of exclusive agreements are one of the few ways in which these streaming services can differentiate themselves from the growing number of competitors.  The landscape of film and TV is slowly shifting as exclusive deals and the rise of streaming services combine to overtake the broadcasting world, leaving audiences questioning if the dominance of streaming services will eventually eradicate more traditional forms of media consumption, including cinema theatres.

 With COVID-19 accelerating the industry push towards streaming, it begs the question of how contracts will continue to evolve as broadcast television is slowly replaced by its newer and flashier counterparts, such as the FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google)?  Will this industry see a rise in exclusive deals, leading to a greater dispersion of content?  With many exclusive deals, consumers will be increasingly forced to purchase several streaming service subscriptions, similar to the way in which they would purchase additional channels with traditional TV.  If this is the case, streamers today should be vigilant around the implications that these exclusive deals could have on their consumers.  If streamers are not first to secure the most coveted television and TV content, they will be ill-equipped to attract and retain valuable costumers.  Only time will tell to see who emerges victorious – the streamers (and if so, which ones) or the broadcasters?  My suspicion is that many of us already know the answer to this question.

Written by Melissa Paglialunga. Melissa is a second year student in the joint JD/MBA program, and a Co-Director of Entertainment for Osgoode’s Entertainment and Sports Law Association. Outside of class, you can find Melissa blasting showtunes and choreographing a routine in her bedroom.