Since 2009, it has become the most common aspect ratio for televisions and computer monitors and is also the international standard format of digital television HDTV Full HD and SD TV. This has replaced the smallscreen 4:3 aspect ratio.
16:9 (1.78:1) (generally named as Sixteen-by-Nine, Sixteen-Nine, and Sixteen-to-Nine) is the international standard format of HDTV, non-HD digital television and analog widescreen television PALplus. Japan's Hi-Vision originally started with a 5:3 (= 15:9) ratio but converted when the international standards group introduced a wider ratio of 5 1/3 to 3 (= 16:9). Many digital video cameras have the capability to record in 16:9 (= 42:32), and 16:9 is the only widescreen aspect ratio natively supported by the DVD standard. DVD producers can also choose to show even wider ratios such as 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 within the 16:9 DVD frame by hard matting or adding black bars within the image itself. However, it was used often in British TVs in the United Kingdom in the 1990s.
Dr. Kerns H. Powers, a member of the SMPTE Working Group on High-Definition Electronic Production, first proposed the 16:9 (1.77:1) aspect ratio in 1984, when nobody was creating 16:9 videos. The popular choices in 1980 were: 4:3 (based on TV standard's ratio at the time), 15:9 (the European "flat" ratio), 1.85:1 (the American "flat" ratio), 2.2:1 (the ratio of 70 mm films and Super Panavision 70) and 2.39:1 (the CinemaScope/Panavision ratio for anamorphic widescreen films).
Powers cut out rectangles with equal areas, shaped to match each of the popular aspect ratios. When overlapped with their center points aligned, he found that all of those aspect ratio rectangles fit within an outer rectangle with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and all of them also covered a smaller common inner rectangle with the same aspect ratio 1.78:1. The value found by Powers is exactly the geometric mean of the extreme aspect ratios, 4:3 and 2.4:1 (or 48:20 - see also 21:9 aspect ratio - .?:1) for more info), ? ? 1.78:1 which is coincidentally close to 16:9. Applying the same geometric mean technique to 16:9 and 4:3 yields the 14:9 aspect ratio, which is likewise used as a compromise between these ratios.
While 16:9 (1.77:1) was initially selected as a compromise format, the subsequent popularity of HDTV broadcast has solidified 16:9 as perhaps the most important video aspect ratio in use. Most 4:3 (1.33:1) and 2.39:1 video is now recorded using a "shoot and protect" technique that keeps the main action within a 16:9 (1.77:1) inner rectangle to facilitate HD broadcast. Conversely it is quite common to use a technique known as center-cutting, to approach the challenge of presenting material shot (typically 16:9) to both an HD and legacy 4:3 audience simultaneously without having to compromise image size for either audience. Content creators frame critical content or graphics to fit within the 1.33 raster space. This has similarities to a filming technique called Open matte.
After the original 16:9 Action Plan of the early 1990s, the European Union has instituted the 16:9 Action Plan, just to accelerate the development of the advanced television services in 16:9 aspect ratio, both in PAL and also in HDTV. The Community fund for the 16:9 Action Plan amounted to EUR228 million.
In 2008, the computer industry started switching to 16:9 from 4:3 and 16:10 as the standard aspect ratio for monitors and laptops. A 2008 report by DisplaySearch cited a number of reasons for this shift, including the ability for PC and monitor manufacturers to expand their product ranges by offering products with wider screens and higher resolutions, helping consumers to more easily adopt such products and "stimulating the growth of the notebook PC and LCD monitor market". By using the same aspect ratio for both TVs and monitors, manufacturing can be streamlined and research costs reduced by not requiring two separate sets of equipment, and since a 16:9 is narrower than a 16:10 panel of the same length, more panels can be created per sheet of glass. 
In 2011, Bennie Budler, product manager of IT products at Samsung South Africa, confirmed that monitors capable of 1920×1200 resolutions aren't being manufactured anymore. "It is all about reducing manufacturing costs. The new 16:9 aspect ratio panels are more cost-effective to manufacture locally than the previous 16:10 panels".
16:9 is the only widescreen aspect ratio natively supported by the DVD format. Anamorphic DVD transfers store the information as 5:4 (PAL) or 3:2 (NTSC) square pixels, which is set to expand to either 16:9 or 4:3, which the television or video player handles. For example, a PAL DVD with a full frame image may contain a video resolution of 720×576 (5:4 ratio), but a video player software will stretch this to 1024×576 square pixels with a 16:9 flag in order to recreate the correct aspect ratio.
DVD producers can also choose to show even wider ratios such as 1.85:1 and 2.39:1[a] within the 16:9 DVD frame by hard matting or adding black bars within the image itself. Some films which were made in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, such as the U.S.-Italian co-production Man of La Mancha and Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing, fit quite comfortably onto a 1.77:1 HDTV screen and have been issued as an enhanced version on DVD without the black bars. Many digital video cameras have the capability to record in 16:9.
Super 16 mm film is frequently used for television production due to its lower cost, lack of need for soundtrack space on the film itself, and aspect ratio similar to 16:9.
Common resolutions for 16:9 are listed in the table below:
In Europe, 16:9 is the standard broadcast format for most TV channels and all HDTV broadcasts. Some countries adopted the format for analog television, first by using the PALplus standard (now obsolete) and then by simply using WSS signals on normal PAL broadcasts.
|Azerbaijan||All channels (except Lider TV).|
|Belarus||All channels (except +TV, TV-3 Belarus).|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||All channels.|
|Croatia||HRT 1**, 2**, 3**, 4**, 5, RTL Televizija*, RTL 2*, Nova TV*, Doma TV*, RTL Kockica* Sportska Televizija**.|
Older programmes filmed in 4:3 are:
**transmitted in their original format.
|Czech Republic||All channels.|
|France||All channels on digital terrestrial television |
Most subscription-based networks
|Georgia||All channels (except Comedy Arkhi, Ertsulovneba, Mall TV, Marneuli, Gurjaani).|
|Iceland||All three national stations broadcast in 16:9 with occasional 4:3 programmes. Local stations still use 4:3.|
|Italy||All channels (except TGS, Tele One and Video 66).|
|Kazakhstan||All channels (except STV).|
|Luxembourg||RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg, Luxe.tv.|
|Malta||All nationwide channels.|
|Moldova||TRM (Moldova 1, Moldova 2), GMG Group (Prime, Canal 2, Canal 3, Publika TV), ProTV Chishinau, N4, Jurnal TV, TV8, NTV-Moldova.|
|Monaco||Télé Monte Carlo & Monaco Info.|
|North Macedonia||All channels.|
|Norway||16:9 is the national standard for television – almost all channels conform to this format.|
|Romania||Always on 16:9: Antena channels (Antena 1, Antena Stars, Antena 3, Happy, ZU TV, Antena Interna?ional), RCS & RDS channels (including Digi 24, U TV, Music Channel), Kiss TV, B1 TV, Telekom Sport, Look TV, Look Plus,Turner channels:(Cartoon Network, Boomerang|
Often on 16:9: TVR channels (TVR 1, TVR 2, TVR 3, TVRi), PRO channels (Pro TV, Pro 2, Pro X, Pro Cinema, Pro Gold, Pro TV Interna?ional), Kanal D
Always on 4:3: Realitatea TV, România TV
Always on 4:3 with 16:9 stretched: CNM channels (Na?ional TV, Na?ional 24 Plus, Favorit TV), TVR regional channels (TVR Cluj, TVR Craiova, TVR Ia?i, TVR Tîrgu-Mure?, TVR Timi?oara), Prima TV.
|Russia||All channels (except some channels from VGTRK (Russian Bestseller, Russian Detective, Cinema, Sarafan, Live Planet, History, Mama, Ani), Spas, 2x2, Disney Channel).|
|San Marino||San Marino RTV.|
|Slovakia||All nationwide channels.|
|Ukraine||All nationwide channels (except First Kiev, Vintage TV, Rada TV, Glas, EWTN, Novyi Hristianskiy, Boutique TV).|
|United Kingdom||All terrestrial channels (except for some programmes on ITV4).|
Japan's Hi-Vision originally started with a 5:3 ratio but converted when the international standards group introduced a wider ratio of 5 to 3 (=16:9).
|China||CCTV channels 1-15, CCTV-5+, CCTV News. Older contents in 4:3 and news contents are stretched on SD variants of these channels as stretching on SD channels is common.|
|Hong Kong||All major channels since digital television broadcasting started in 2007.|
|India||All HD channels. Most SD channels are still broadcasting in 4:3, either fullscreen on letterboxed.|
|Indonesia||16:9 native*: Kompas TV, BeritaSatu TV**, CNN Indonesia**, MetroTV, Trans7, Trans TV, CNBC Indonesia**, NET., Jawa Pos TV, DAAI TV, MyTV
*Channels that are primarily broadcast in 16:9 sometimes are filled by 4:3 content which are either stretched or pillarboxed.
**Only on digital cable/satellite
***Channels in this category broadcast in 16:9 HDTV along with inner 4:3 SDTV. Due to their visibility, some contents are either pillarboxed and windowboxed (especially in commercial ads and live sport games). Contents wider than 16:9 are usually letterboxed. They're usually stretched in SDTV mode. HD versions are limited to pay-TV services.
****These channels are still using 4:3 configuration. Stretched when broadcasting in 16:9 format. Some channels have limited original 16:9 video contents.
Note: Nationwide TV channels listed above are classified according to their original configuration, sorted chronologically according to TV configuration update. Configuration for exclusively digital and local channels are may vary. Local version of nationwide channels may be different to their national version.
|Israel||All main channels, including but not limited to Hot&Yes.|
|Japan||Japan pioneered in its analogue HDTV system (MUSE) in 16:9 format, started in the 1980s. Currently all main channels have digital terrestrial television channels in 16:9 while being simulcast in analogue 4:3 format. Many satellite broadcast channels are being broadcast in 16:9 as well.|
|Lebanon||LBCI.4:3 Shows are stretched|
|Mongolia||MNB & MN2, TM Television, TV5, TV6, TV8, Channel 25, ?x ?, SBN, ETV, MNC, Eagle News TV, Edutainment TV, Star TV, SPS, Sportbox and SHUUD TV.|
|Nepal||Kantipur Television Network|
|Pakistan||All HD channels. Most SD channels are still broadcasting in 4:3, either in fullscreen or letterboxed|
|Philippines||16:9 native*: PTV, ABS-CBN HD***, S+A HD ***, ANC (both SD and HD)***, Kapamilya Channel (both SD and HD)***, CNN Philippines, One PH,*** One News***, Hope Channel Philippines, 3ABN, Hope International, INCTV, Net 25
4:3 upscaled/stretched to 16:9**: ETC, 2nd Avenue, all BEAM's subchannels, Light Network, UNTV, Ang Dating Daan TV, SMNI, all ABS-CBN terrestrial channels (including TVPlus channels), 5, 5 Plus, GMA 7
*channels that are squeezed/letterboxed to 4:3 on analog terrestrial transmissions nor no letterbox on widescreen-produced programs.
**channels that are originally broadcasting in 4:3 on analog terrestrial, but upscaled or stretched to 16:9 for digital terrestrial television, cable and satellite.
***16:9 versions available on pay-TV services only.
|Qatar||All Al Jazeera Sports channels, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera English, Qatar TV HD, all Alkass channels.|
|Saudi Arabia||All channels.|
|Singapore||All MediaCorp channels, however 16:9 contents look squashed on older 4:3 sets. Also, all 4:3 contents including news clips are stretched as stretching is common.|
|South Korea||All major channels currently feature 16:9 aspect ratio.|
|Sri Lanka||Colombo TV.|
|Taiwan||TTV HD, CTV HD, CTS HD, FTV HD, PTS HD, TVBS.|
|United Arab Emirates||All channels.|
|Vietnam||All of VTC's channels, VTV channels, HTV channels and K+'s channels (selected programmes), most of local channels.|
|Bolivia||Always on 16:9: PAT, ATB.|
Often on 16:9: Bolivia TV.
|Brazil||Almost all channels.|
|Canada||Almost all channels.|
|Colombia||All channels, except Citytv|
|Costa Rica||All channels.|
|Dominican Republic||All channels.|
|Mexico||Free-to-air television: Las Estrellas, FOROtv, Canal 5, NU9VE, Televisa Regional, Azteca Uno, Azteca 7, a+, adn40, Imagen Televisión, Excélsior TV, Canal Once, Canal 22, Una Voz con Todos, Teveunam, Milenio Televisión, Multimedios Televisión, Teleritmo, and some local stations broadcast HD signal.
Pay television: U, Golden, Golden Edge, TL Novelas, Bandamax, De Película, De Película Clásico, Ritmoson Latino, TDN, TeleHit, Distrito Comedia, Tiin, Az Noticias, Az Clic!, Az Mundo, Az Corazón, Az Cinema, 52MX, TVC, TVC Deportes, Pánico, Cinema Platino, Cine Mexicano.
|Paraguay||Almost all channels on free-to-air television (especially HD Feeds), (ex.: RPC, NPY, Unicanal, channel 7 HD). SD feeds (usually found on pay television) are usually letterboxed and downscaled to 4:3. (for example: SNT & Paravisión)|
|Peru||All nationwide channels. Some regional networks still broadcast in 4:3.|
|United States||All HD channels. SD feeds (usually found on pay television) are usually letterboxed and downscaled to 4:3.|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2015)
|Burkina Faso||All channels.|
|Cape Verde||All channels.|
|Egypt||ERTU Channel 1, ON E, ON Drama, ON Sport, ON Sport 2, DMC, DMC Drama, CBC, CBC Drama, CBC Sofra, Extra News, Al Nahar One, Al Nahar Drama, Al Nahar Sport, TeN, Al Hayah, Al Hayah 2, Al Hayah Musalsalat.|
|Equatorial Guinea||All channels.|
|Ivory Coast||All channels.|
|South Africa||16:9 is the standard broadcast format for most digital channels and all HDTV broadcasts all main channels.|