How to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for free [Updated]

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How to watch ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ for free
Despite what you hear, it's possible to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for free in 2020. Here's how.
Photo: Cult of Mac

There’s a huge furor currently, with people seemingly enraged about Apple buying the rights to beloved Peanuts holiday specials, including It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and locking them behind a paywall. But that’s not what happened. These beloved shows will still be available to watch for free.

Even so, a Change.org petition gathered more than 100,000 signatures from people who mistakenly think they’re unable to watch Charlie Brown get nothing but rocks while trick-or-treating this year. There’s no reason for this.

Admittedly, these specials won’t be on broadcast TV anymore. They must be watched through the Apple TV application. That’s not a big hurdle, though — anyone with the equipment to watch Netflix or Hulu has everything they need to watch Apple TV.

Update: October 30 is the first day to watch the Peanuts Halloween special on Apple TV for free.

But there is a time limitation. The window to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for free is from Friday, October 30, through Sunday, November 1. So you’ll need to plan a bit. But it’s much easier than the “good old days” when these special were broadcast just a single time each year.

How to watch the Peanuts Halloween special for free

How you’ll watch these shows varies depending on what type of devices you’ll use. Here’s a set of guides for various types.

On an Apple device

The free Apple TV application is needed to watch the Peanuts Halloween special on Mac, iPhone, etc. Don’t confuse this software with Apple TV+, which is a for-pay subscription streaming service. And also don’t confuse the app with Apple TV hardware. Both the service and the hardware make watching these specials easier, but they aren‘t required. At all.

The Apple TV application is available in the App Store for iPhone and iPad. There’s also a Mac version. Install any or all of these as you would any software.

Once you have the application installed and running, look around for It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. (Here’s a direct link.)

If you want to watch between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1, the show is free.

On Windows, Android or Chrome OS

Watching Apple’s video content is as easy as visiting its website for anyone with a computer running Windows or Chrome OS. The same goes for Android phones and tablets.

You’ll watch the Peanuts specials in a browser. And can jump straight to the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown page.

Once again, watching for free is only possible between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1. Or you can sign up for an Apple TV+ subscription and watch immediately, as discussed earlier.

On a Roku, Fire TV or smart TV

Apple produced a version of the Apple TV application for a wide range of streaming devices. That includes smart TVs, too.

On a Roku, go to the Channel Store and download the Apple software. On an Amazon Fire TV, installation can start with saying, “Alexa, find the Apple TV app.” You might need to create a free account, also called an Apple ID, if you don’t have one already.

Remember to open the app on your TV from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 to watch the Peanuts Halloween special for free.

The Apple TV+ connection

The time window to watch Linus and Sally sit in the pumpkin patch is much broader for anyone with a subscription to streaming video service Apple TV+. The special is available for several weeks for subscribers, though it also ends on Nov. 1.

Of course, this is the point. Apple is giving free access to It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and other specials to everyone, but it really wants people to sign up for a subscription. Before you get all offended, consider this is how capitalism works. People sell things. Other people buy them. It’s not evil.

If you simply can’t wait a few days to watch this show, you can see it immediately for free by signing up for a seven-day free trial of Apple TV+. Just remember that the free trial trick works only once. And A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will land on Apple TV+ in November, followed by A Charlie Brown Christmas in December.

Or you can pay $4.99 to see the special you love immediately. And your first-month subscription will still be available when you’re ready to watch the Peanuts Thanksgiving special.

Apple didn’t yank the football away from Charlie Brown

Don’t think of this as Apple hijacking a precious childhood memory. It might be the opposite. The Peanuts specials used to be on CBS, then they moved to ABC. Then Apple was able to buy the rights. As much as some people still love the shows, that trajectory almost certainly indicates that ratings have dropped over the years. Maybe ABC wasn’t planning to run them this year at all. This is mere speculation, but it fits the facts. In which case, Apple stepped in to save your childhood memories.

Also, Apple won’t force you to watch commercials. You won’t have to sit through ads for York Peppermint Patties ever again.

And, if you’re a real Peanuts fan, you should be overjoyed by this last bit of news. Apple did more than just buying the rights to It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and other classic holiday specials. It’s going to make more, along with a new series focused on Snoopy.

If you really love Chuck and Linus and Marcie and the rest of Charles M. Schulz‘s creations, you should be happy at this. The Peanuts holiday specials will still be around for new generations.