Disney has now confirmed classic episodes of The Simpsons will be available on Disney+ in their original 4:3 aspect ratio starting in early 2020. Following the launch of the anticipated streaming service, fans of The Simpsons were dismayed to find that classic episodes had been cropped or stretched to fill out a 16:9 aspect ratio, ruining countless visual gags in the process. Recognizing the complaints from fans, Disney has announced they will offer the 4:3 versions of the episodes early next year, but viewers will still have the choice of watching the 16:9 versions if they wish.
Here's what Disney said in a statement about what's to come for The Simpsons on the Disney+ streaming service:
"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."
From its conception, The Simpsons had been airing its episodes on Fox in its original 4:3 for about two decades. In 2009, the series officially made the switch to 16:9 when it began high-definition production, which also came with a new intro sequence after 20 years. This happened in the midst of the show's 20th season, coinciding with Disney's comments about restoring the original aspect ratio for the first 19 seasons along with part of Season 20. Of course, giving fans the option of choosing between both aspect ratios is ideal, as some viewers may not be as particular about the small visual gags with a preference of having what they're watching filling up the entire screen.
While Disney may have irritated some fans of The Simpsons with the launch of the series on Disney+, featuring the popular series is still a huge perk for the streaming service. Already facing the competition with Netflix along with upcoming services like HBO Max and NBC's Peacock, the streaming wars are only going to get much more heated moving forward. Everyone is vying to offer the most exclusive popular content they can, which includes the streaming rights to other classic comedies like Friends and The Office. There are undoubtedly many Disney+ subscribers who signed up mostly for The Simpsons, so keeping those fans happy is certainly smart thinking for Disney.
In any case, it's definitely awesome to have such easy access to the first 30 seasons of The Simpsons. It's even better to know the classic episodes will soon enough be presented on Disney+ in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, so fans of the series can watch the show the way it was meant to be seen. Giving viewers a choice seems like a perfect compromise. This news comes to us from Collider.