The streaming service launched Nov. 12 in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands with the full batch of “Simpsons” episodes in 16-by-9 HD format, which cropped out key details from older episodes — and angered many fans.
In a statement, Disney said it launched “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,” the company said. “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.”
The problem with cropping older “Simpsons” eps in 16:9 format was that it literally destroyed some of the show’s jokes. In one widely cited example, Tristan Cooper of CH Media’s Dorkly and CollegeHumor pointed out this scene showing how Disney Plus users wouldn’t get the gag about how three varieties of Duff beer all come from the same source:
All the classic Simpsons episodes on Disney+ are in cropped widescreen format — this means you miss out on tons of great visual jokes, like how Duff, Duff Lite and Duff Dry all come from the same tube. pic.twitter.com/cTy9adulFl
— Tristan Cooper (@TristanACooper) November 12, 2019
The Mouse House announced earlier this year that Disney Plus would be the exclusive subscription VOD home of “The Simpsons.” That came shortly after Disney closed a deal to buy big pieces of 21st Century Fox, including “Simpsons” producer 20th Century Fox Television.
“The Simpsons,” from creator and executive producer Matt Groening, was renewed for Seasons 31 and 32 earlier this year by the Fox broadcast network (now part of the new Fox Corp.). At the end of Season 32, the show will have produced 713 episodes total. “The Simpsons” is the longest-running primetime scripted TV show in history, having surpassed “Gunsmoke” last year during season 29.