‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’: How to Stream for Free in 2022

Rats! If you were hoping to spend part of the holiday season with Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang, you won’t find them on regular TV. The classic 1965 animated special A Charlie Brown Christmas won’t air on broadcast television in 2022. But you will be able to stream the special for free – here’s how.  

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ streams for free on Apple TV+

Scene of the Peanuts around the Christmas tree in 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'
‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ | Apple TV+

This year, Apple TV+ has the exclusive streaming rights to A Charlie Brown Christmas and the other Peanuts holiday specials. Subscribers to the streaming service can watch the 30-minute Christmas special anytime, along with I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales, and Happy New Year, Charlie Brown. 

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to fork over $4.99 per month to see Charlie Brown rescue a bedraggled tree and learn the true meaning of Christmas. A Charlie Brown Christmas will also stream for free on Apple TV+ from Thursday, Dec. 22 to Sunday, Dec. 25. To watch, go to tv.apple.com or download the Apple TV app. Then, search for A Charlie Brown Christmas and hit play.

The Peanuts special is a Christmas classic 

A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first Peanuts holiday special. It premiered Dec. 9, 1965, on CBS and quickly became a seasonal classic. But before it aired, the team that made it doubted it would be successful. 

The special focuses on Charlie Brown, who is having trouble getting into the holiday spirit. Eventually, with some help from his friends, he rediscovers the real meaning behind Christmas. The 30-minute feature was produced in just six months after Coca-Cola decided it wanted to sponsor a Christmas special. And once they finished A Charlie Brown Christmas, the creative team wasn’t exactly impressed with the final product. 

“We thought we had ruined Charlie Brown,” producer Lee Mendelson said in the short documentary The Making of A Charlie Brown Christmas (via YouTube). “And the network really didn’t like it.”

They couldn’t have been more wrong. The special was a major hit, with half of all TV viewers tuning in to watch the premiere. It also went on to win an Emmy and a Peabody Award.  

Charlie Brown actor Peter Robbins found his role a ‘challenge’

Charlie Brown voice actor Peter Robbins posing with a person in a Charlie Brown costume
Peter Robbins | Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage
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Finding the perfect person to voice Charlie Brown was key to making the Christmas special a success. Mendelson needed to find a child who could “sound bland” but was also a “good actor … an unusual combination of talent,” he recalled in his book A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition. He found that combination of attributes in 8-year-old Peter Robbins

Robbins, who already had some experience working in TV, wasn’t intimidated by playing the memorable comic strip character. He thought the work would be “very easy; a voice-over compared to acting on camera,” as he explained to Mendelson in an interview. But he soon realized voicing Charlie Brown wouldn’t be as simple as he initially thought. 

“We had unusual words to deliver like ‘good grief’ and ‘rats’ and ‘eastern syndicate.’ A lot of the talk was ‘edgy,’ at least for us kids at the time.” 

Robbins also had trouble relating to his character’s less-than-enthusiastic attitude about Christmas. 

“Another challenge was the fact that I, as Charlie Brown, was supposed to be depressed at Christmastime,” he said. “It was very strange for an 8½-year-old to pretend to be depressed about Christmas, the most joyous time of the year!” 

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