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Don’t have a cow, ‘Simpsons’ fans. Disney+ will offer ‘original’ aspect ratios in early 2020

“The Simpsons”
Disney+ launched this week with 30 seasons of “The Simpsons.”
(Fox)

Immediately after Disney+ launched with a treasure trove of “The Simpsons” episodes this week, fans of the show complained that the viewing experience was marred by the service’s formatting. Many episodes were presented in an aspect ratio that critics said ruined some of the show’s visual gags.

But “Simpsons” purists may not have to cry into their Duff beer for long.

Walt Disney Co., in a Friday statement to The Times, said the service is planning to give viewers the ability to watch the show’s affected seasons in their original format if they so choose. Still, viewers will have to wait until early next year for that option.

“We presented ‘The Simpsons’ in 16:9 aspect ratio at launch in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons,” a Disney+ spokesperson said. “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.”

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A quick primer on the outcry.

In the run-up to the much-anticipated launch of Disney’s Netflix rival on Tuesday, Disney has made a big to-do about the inclusion of 30 seasons of the landmark Fox animated satire for viewers’ binge-watching pleasure. An ad for the service featured Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa and Maggie dressed as Disney characters.

The first 19 seasons of “The Simpsons” aired in 4:3 aspect ratio, which measures the height and width of the image. The series was converted to the now common 16:9 aspect ratio, which fills out widescreen TVs. Rather than stretch out the image, the early seasons were cropped to fit the current standard format.

But “Simpsons” fans have long noted that the cropping practice cuts out sight gags that only make sense if the top and bottom of the frame is visible. The complaints were widely reported by outlets including Indiewire.

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This is not a new problem for “Simpsons” die-hards.

Cable network FXX caused a stir in 2014 by broadcasting the older episodes in a cropped and zoomed-in format in order to make the transition to HDTV.

Along with “The Simpsons,” Disney+ features a massive library of content from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and National Geographic.

The company said Wednesday that 10 million people had signed up for the $6.99-a-month service, though many are still in a seven-day free trial period.

On the day off the launch, many users experienced login and connection issues that the company blamed on the influx of viewers trying to use the app.


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