Disney+ has been a platform that has cause a huge stir among people from the moment it launched. What added to that stir was the launch of The Simpsons on the platform. However, from the moment it released, one of the biggest complaints that Disney+ has received has been the incorrect aspect ratio.
However, Disney seems to have listened to fans and is trying to fix the situation so that subscribers can stream the show in its proper 4:3 ratio by the end of May.
In its statement, Disney said:
“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.”
Previously, all seasons of Disney+ were available to stream on the platform in 16:9 aspect ratio, instead of the 4:3 ratio. This change used to crop out many visual gags entirely. The company had said in November that the change in aspect ratio was so that visual quality and consistency of all 30 seasons was maintained. However, this did not land quite well, since, even though the quality was better, the jokes fell flat. Customers were thus evidently not happy.
When The Simpsons released in 1989, the show came originally in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Later on, about a third of the way though The Simpsons’ 20th season, the show’s aspect ratio changed to 16:9. This change happened sometime in 2009. The issue became so weird that it became a part of memes among Simpsons fans. However, the situation became better when Fox’s FXX network announced that the early episodes of Simpsons would be available on the Simpsons World app in the original 4:3 aspect ratio.
Fans, obviously, were head-over-heels in praise of FXX after this and thanked the network for giving subscribers some much needed technological freedom. Thus, when it was announced that The Simpsons would be exclusively streaming on Disney+ in early 2019, fans were certain that it would stream in its original aspect ratio. However, when that did not happen, fans were not happy, to say the least. The situation became so bad that even former Simpsons writer Bill Oakley was disappointed with the setup.
However, now it seems like the situation is on its way towards rectification. But with the recent state of affairs in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with production being delayed due to self-isolation and quarantine, the format switch might not be here as early as fans predicted.
Additionally, the reason that it is taking so long can be attributed to the fact that Disney had to go back to the source material and remaster them all over again into HD. Apart from this, Disney+ has also promised new features and additional viewing options. It might hopefully mean that they will also start adding the episode commentaries that were available when The Simpsons was streaming on FX Now. Disney+ can set themselves apart in this respect if it offers additional materials that are not available otherwise. This works just how it did for Avengers: Endgame whose deleted scene was made available on Disney+, which wasn’t available even on the home video release.