If you’re a Disney Plus subscriber, you can now stream the first 30 seconds of The Simpsons on the streaming service, but there’s a catch: all of the episodes are in widescreen format. This is a problem for the older seasons, which were released in the 4:3 aspect ratio that was standard at the time. Fans have complained and now Disney is promising a change starting early next year.
While it’s understandable that some viewers hate watching 4:3 videos on 16:9 widescreen televisions due to the large black bars that result on each side of the screen, there’s a good reason to watch older shows in the format they were filmed.
Stretching a 4:3 video to widescreen is only possible by either remastering the content to include originally cropped footage or by cropping the versions that aired, removing vital elements from the videos. Viewers unfamiliar with the episodes won’t even realize which elements they’re missing in the cropped versions.
In the case of The Simpsons, cropping the older seasons to widescreen has resulted in certain elements being lost that ultimately ruin jokes, spoiling the entire episode for viewers. Disney Plus subscribers have taken to the Internet’s various hovels to complain about this issue.
In a statement, Disney said that it had launched with The Simpsons in widescreen format ‘in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons.’ However, Disney plans to add other viewing options for the show, including the first 19+ seasons of The Simpsons in their original 4:3 aspect ratio.
Viewers will be able to choose to watch those older episodes in the original format or the widescreen format, depending on their own preferences. Of course, the newer seasons are created for widescreen displays, meaning there won’t be a 4:3 option for those ones.