With each bit of news about Apple’s streaming service, their animation strategy becomes more clear: it hinges on working with proven/legacy creators/brands. These include a show from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, a deal with Sesame Workshop that will include animation projects, a feature from Cartoon Saloon, and now, new Peanuts animation.
Apple has signed a deal with DHX Media, the majority-owner of the Peanuts brand, to produce animation exclusive to its service based on the classic Charles Schulz comic strip characters. The animation will include series, specials, and shorts.
Among the animation to be produced will be short-form STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) content featuring astronaut Snoopy.
Licensing established properties and characters is a key strategy for the streaming content services, which are trying to distinguish themselves from each other and also preparing for the arrival of Disney’s streaming service that will come stocked with well known characters. Netflix, for example, recently acquired a library of Roald Dahl stories to turn into animation projects.
The difference between acquiring the Dahl stories and Peanuts is telling though. Whereas Dahl’s universe offers a rich mythology and infinite potential for exploration and re-invention, the Peanuts characters live in a tightly-defined world that doesn’t invite deviation or worldbuilding. Combine the creative limitations of Peanuts with the fact that 500 new Peanuts shorts were produced just a few years ago, and one can’t help but question Apple’s vision by commissioning even more animation of these well worn characters.
Analysts expect Apple to start rolling out its streaming service in the second half of 2019.