Some Christmas movies come and go in popularity, but if there’s one holiday classic that’s managed to stand the test of time, proving to be an ageless favorite to all who’ve seen it, it’s A Charlie Brown Christmas special. Given that the special first aired all the way back in 1965, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that many families have made a tradition of viewing it around this time each year. However, that task is proving to be more and more difficult these days, leaving many to wonder where to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas when the time comes.
But first, a quick recap in case it’s been a minute since your family has caught the special. Featuring all the beloved Peanuts characters, the story centers around an ever-worried Charlie Brown, who’s grown tired of the consumerism surrounding the holiday season and is desperate for someone to explain to him what Christmas is really supposed to be about. So, you know, totally typical thoughts for a child to have, right? Naturally, there are one or two (OK, maybe more like several) classic “good grief” moments along the way, but ultimately Charlie Brown gets the answer he’s looking for, as well as a few heartfelt memories along the way that manage to leave viewers full of holiday cheer.
So, where can we watch it?
There’s only one way to stream A Charlie Brown Christmas in 2022, which leaves you with very limited options at your disposal. As it stands, Apple TV+ has exclusive rights to all things Peanut-related, including the iconic Christmas special. So if you have an account, you can start streaming instantly. And if you don’t, well, you might decide to add the streaming platform to your repertoire.
Here’s some exciting news, though: You can still watch A Charlie Brown Christmas for free this year! Apple TV+ is streaming the special at no cost for nonsubscribers from Thursday, Dec. 22, through Sunday, Dec. 25. To watch, you simply need to visit the Apple TV+ streaming site and enter the name of the special in the search bar. When it comes up, you’ll be able to hit play to stream it as a nonsubscriber during the free window.
If you want to watch it outside of that window, you can always test out a subscription — new subscribers can sign up for a seven-day Apple TV+ free trial. After the free trial period, a subscription is only $6.99 per month.
When will it air on broadcast TV?
Typically, the special has aired annually on ABC at least once during the holiday season, which has been great for those who prefer broadcast television over streaming. However, this year PBS confirmed in a tweet that you shouldn’t expect any of the beloved Peanuts specials to air anywhere on broadcast television for the foreseeable future.
“Regretfully, PBS does not have the rights to distribute the Peanuts specials this year,” the network tweeted back in September after one fan inquired about the Halloween special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. “We’ll all have to watch for the Great Pumpkin in a different pumpkin patch this Halloween.” That means the same goes for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and all other specials for the franchise.
It’s not ideal, especially if you aren’t already an Apple TV+ subscriber. On the plus side, if you decide to become one, you can watch the Christmas special (or Halloween or Thanksgiving specials) anytime, however many times you want. That’s a pretty good deal considering the alternative is being Charlie Brown-less this holiday season. Good grief, indeed!
Are there any other possible options?
Unfortunately, when it comes to this specific special, your hands are kind of tied — you can either watch on Apple TV+ or skip the traditional viewing altogether this year. Of course, if you’re truly desperate, you could go the old-school route and purchase A Charlie Brown Christmas DVD for roughly $14 on Amazon. Then you would own the special outright and never have to worry about this problem again — that is, as long as you still own a DVD player.