How to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for free
You can watch Snoopy's popcorn-and-toast feast without an Apple TV Plus subscription.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
The 1973 TV special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is as traditional as turkey and stuffing. Many fans, therefore, were unhappy to learn in October that the Peanuts holiday specials -- including It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; and the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, were moving from CBS to Apple TV Plus.
Fans gave thanks, however, when Apple later announced a deal with PBS to air ad-free broadcasts of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on both PBS and the PBS Kids website. But if you missed out on those showings, read on for ways you can still enjoy Snoopy's not-so-traditional popcorn-and-toast dinner. And if you're already looking ahead to December, A Charlie Brown Christmas will air for free on PBS and its website on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. local (6:30 p.m. Central).
Over on Apple TV Plus, just like the Halloween special, the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials will all be viewable free for a few days each, according to Apple. While no special Apple equipment or subscription is required, viewers must have a decent internet connection, be tech-savvy enough to seek out the specials via browser or app during their brief window of free availability, and have a device that can show them. Even in 2020, those conditions don't apply to everyone -- and before the PBS broadcast offering was announced, some fans were unhappy.
"I live in the country and have pretty crappy internet service," one Twitter user wrote back in October. "I do have DirecTV but no streaming apps. I've been a fan of the Peanuts holiday shows for years. Watched them as a child and with my kids but the tradition has died for my grandkids. So sad. Thanks no thanks Apple."
When to watch the show
Got Apple TV Plus?
Apple TV Plus subscribers can watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving now on that streaming service as part of their paid-for plan. The special was available beginning Nov. 18.
Don't have Apple TV Plus?
If you don't subscribe to Apple TV Plus and you missed the Nov. 22 PBS show, you need to wait until Nov. 25, when you can watch it for free until Nov. 27. (Thanksgiving is Nov. 26 this year.)
How to watch on Apple TV Plus
You can either watch in your browser or on the Apple TV app. To watch in your browser, go to tv.apple.com . Otherwise, download the Apple TV app and watch on your choice of screen, including iPhone, Amazon Fire, Roku and more. Again, it's only free during that brief period from Nov. 25 through Nov. 27.
Or, give thanks for DVDs
If watching in your browser or on the app isn't for you, there's still another solution: Buy the DVD or Blu-ray version. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is sold by itself ($20 at Target and available plenty of other places as well) or as part of The Peanuts Holiday Collection ($42 at Amazon, again, also sold elsewhere). Then you'll have the special -- or all the holiday specials -- for as long as your DVD player holds out.
Next up: The Christmas special
After Thanksgiving, the next Peanuts holiday special is the OG of the bunch: 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas. That'll be available to Apple TV Plus subscribers beginning Dec. 4, but non-subscribers can only watch it free from Dec. 11 through Dec. 13.
But once again, PBS and PBS Kids online to the rescue! A Charlie Brown Christmas will air on broadcast TV via PBS, and online via PBS Kids, on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. PT.
Even after the holidays, Apple TV Plus will continue as the home for new Peanuts shows, including the second season of the Snoopy in Space series, plus new specials that will mark Mother's Day, Earth Day, New Year's Eve and going back to school.
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