10:00am PT by Michael O'Connell
Apple Lands Rights to Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Co. in New Peanuts Deal
Following what was described as a highly competitive bidding situation, Apple and its forthcoming originals operation has landed the rights to new Peanuts content.
The tech giant, which has not-so-quietly been amassing a strong roster of talent and original productions that is slated to start rolling out in 2019, has completed a deal with DHX Media to create series, specials and shorts featuring iconic Charles M. Schulz characters such as Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the entire Peanuts gang. DHX, the Canadian-based kids programming giant that acquired a stake in the Peanuts franchise in 2017, will produce all of the projects.
As part of the partnership, DHX Media also will produce original short-form STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) content that will be exclusive to Apple and feature astronaut Snoopy. DHX Media will be working closely with subsidiary Peanuts Worldwide on all efforts.
Kids programming is an increasingly lucrative area of original television content. Apple previously inked a content partnership with Sesame Workshop for a new slate of children's programming. Netflix’s massive push into the genre, HBO’s decision to invest in Sesame Street and the built-in library of the upcoming Disney+ all heavily cater to kids in an effort to develop brand loyalty early on. (Children who watch Peanuts content on their family’s Apple products will, presumably, segue into other arenas and buy devices of their own as they grow older.)
And Peanuts is not exactly a kids-exclusive brand. Annual holiday specials — It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas, in particular — remain massive draws when they air on ABC, both among total viewers and adults 18-49. And an original Peanuts series ran on Cartoon Network as recently as 2016.
Recent theatrical foray The Peanuts Movie, which saw the iconic characters get their animation style updated in 2015, grossed $130 million in the U.S. and $246 million worldwide.
Schulz first introduced his Peanuts characters in 1950. Nearly 70 years later, Peanuts remains among the more valuable intellectual properties in all of children’s programming. As for Peanuts Worldwide, rights are currently shared by DHX Media (41 percent) and Sony Music Entertainment (39 percent) — with the family of the late creator retaining 20 percent.