The Legacy of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a holiday tradition since 1965!

The background: The special was commissioned and sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company and ran every year on CBS (1965–2000) until ABC took over in 2001.

The show was written and animated in less than 6 months and many did not think that it was very good.

Key passage:
Executive producer Lee Mendelson told USA Today this week that an ad executive at McCann-Erickson, whose client Coca-Cola was sponsoring the special, was unimpressed after looking at rough sketches and some animation tests that didn’t yet feature the now-iconic Vince Guaraldi jazz soundtrack. “This isn’t very good,” Mendelson said the exec told him before suggesting that Coke might cancel the show. But Mendelson assured him the project would come together and entreated the ad man to have faith in Schulz and his characters.

Despite the initial skepticism the show was a hit with viewers and went on to win an Emmy the following year for Outstanding Children’s Program.

Total project cost:
1965 dollars — $96K
2018 dollars — $768K

Wow: Half of the country tuned into that first show!

Rating by year:
2018–1.2 (5.14M viewers)

Still popular: The 1.2 rating led all Thursday night programming when it aired this year.

Apple recently inked a deal that will add future Peanuts content to its “forthcoming” streaming service.

More #1: 50 years in, ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ remains timeless

More #2: Best TV Christmas Episodes

More #3: The War for Christmas TV Is More Competitive Than Ever


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