'The Simpsons' Aspect Ratio Problem on Disney+ Will Be Fixed in Early 2020

Update 4/2/20: Today, Disney+ released a statement on Twitter saying they expect this process to be completed by the end of May 2020.

Our original article from November 2019 follows.

Disney+ arrived this week to much excitement and glee from fans anxious to stream everything from the new live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian to Disney classics The Lion King and everything in between. However, one of the more enticing library titles from Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox immediately disappointed fans. But thankfully, it’s about to be fixed.

Every single season of The Simpsons is available on Disney+ right now, but when it comes to the first 19 seasons of the show, there was an issue. The aspect ratio for those episodes was presented in the widescreen 16:9 ratio, the shape of your average television today. But those episodes from the first 19 seasons aired when the full screen 4:3 ratio was the standard for television. The result was episodes that lost visual quality and some hilarious sight gags. But Disney+ will have The Simpsons aspect ratio problem fixed in the near future.

Disney released a statement announcing their plans to have The Simpsons aspect ratio problem fixed:

“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.”

The reason this fix only applies to the first 19 seasons and some of the 20th season is because halfway through that season, The Simpsons started broadcasting in widescreen. So every episode after that was made for the 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s a shame fans will have to wait as much as a few months for something that should have been available right out of the gate, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.

With Disney+ promising “new features and additional viewing options,” hopefully this means they will also start adding the episode commentaries that were available when entire seasons were previously made available on FX Now. The streaming service could really set themselves apart from the rest of the competition by offering unique special features and bonus material, especially if it ends up being stuff you can’t get on the home video releases of certain titles, like the recent Avengers: Endgame deleted scene that was made available on Disney+. Stay tuned as the streaming service continues to adapt and grow.

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