Disney Plus Will Fix ‘The Simpsons’ Aspect Ratio Issue in 2020
While the launch of Disney+ has largely been a very successful affair, with over 10 million subscribers already signed up, there were a few minor controversies during the streaming service’s first week. Some were quite amusing (MCLUNKEY!) but at least one was a little disconcerting.
More than half of The Simpsons’ 30 seasons were streaming in the incorrect aspect ratio — 16:9 instead of the boxier 4:3 — which allowed the older episodes to fill most modern widescreen televisions by cutting off the top and bottom of most frames. The trims eliminate some jokes and in some cases make the show look grainier and more low-res than it should.
Fans complained and Disney has listened. In a statement, they announced that in “early 2020” you will be able to switch between versions of The Simpsons, and watch every episode as it was originally intended:
We presented The Simpsons in 16:9 aspect ratio at launch in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons. Over time, Disney+ will roll out new features and additional viewing options. As part of this, in early 2020, Disney+ will make the first 19 seasons (and some episodes from Season 20) of The Simpsons available in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, giving subscribers a choice of how they prefer to view the popular series.
Launching a streaming service of Disney+’s magnitude is no small feat, and it’s easy to see how things can fall through the cracks. But in the case of The Simpsons, its previous streaming home already had the ability to switch between aspect ratios, so it’s tough to tell fans you’re giving them an upgrade while taking features away. And speaking of features, hopefully the “new” ones mentioned in Disney’s statement include the commentary tracks for The Simpsons that have been available previously elsewhere. That’s not as important as getting the aspect ratio right. But it would be a nice added extra.
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