Disney Explains How ‘The Simpsons’ Streams In Both 4:3 And 16:9 Aspect Ratios

Disney Explains How ‘The Simpsons’ Streams In Both 4:3 And 16:9 Aspect Ratios

Fans of The Simpsons believe nearly every frame of it contains jokes — not just the frame, but every part of the frame. That’s why many of them had mixed reactions last fall when Disney first offered The Simpsons on Disney+, its direct-to-consumer streaming service. Because the show has been on the air since 1989, its library spans both the 4:3 (square-ish) and 16:9 (rectangular) aspect ratio eras, but the older episodes were cropped as part of the conversion to 16:9 for streaming. Days after launching Disney+, the company promised it would work to make both aspect ratios available in 2020. Six months later, the company has delivered, enabling viewers to toggle between the two based on their preference or how they were used to seeing it over the course of its run. On Thursday, Joe Rice, VP of Media Product for Disney Streaming Services, described the complex effort to add a new feature spanning more than 30 years’ worth of episodes. One reason the project was fast-tracked was that Disney had seen the show instantly become one of the top titles on Disney+, as it had hoped when shelling out $71.3 billion for most of 21st Century Fox in 2018. During the show’s first decade on Fox, it aired in 4:3 standard definition before moving to 16:9 high-definition during its 20th season in 2009. All episodes were upgraded to HD and uploaded to Disney+ but in order for the image to fill more rectangular-shaped TV sets, images ...
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