Once seen as exotic, 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. It has replaced the fullscreen 4:3 aspect ratio.
16:9 (1.77:1) (said as sixteen by nine or 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 ratio but converted when the international standards group introduced a wider ratio of 16 to 9. Many digital video cameras have the capability to record in 16:9, 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 2.40:1 within the 16:9 DVD frame by hard matting or adding black bars within the image itself.
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" 1.66:1 ratio), 1.85:1 (the American "flat" ratio) and 2.35:1 (the CinemaScope/Panavision) ratio for anamorphic widescreen.
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 1.77:1 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 2.35:1, ?47/15?1.77:1 which is coincidentally close to 16:9. Applying the same geometric mean technique to 16:9 and 4:3 yields an aspect ratio of around 1.5396:1, sometimes approximated as 14:9 (1.55:1), 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 common video aspect ratio in use. Most 4:3 (1.33:1) and 2.40:1 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 1.33:1 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 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 HD. The Community fund for the 16:9 Action Plan amounted to EUR228,000,000.
Over a long period in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the computer industry switched from 4:3 to 16:9 as the most common 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 are not 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. A PAL DVD with a full frame image may contain a video resolution of 768×576 (4:3 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 2.40:1 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.
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 HD broadcasts. Some countries adopted the format for analogue television, first by using the PALplus standard (now obsolete) and then by simply using WSS on normal PAL broadcasts.
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||All channels.|
|Croatia||HRT 1**, 2**, 3**, 4**, 5, RTL Televizija*, RTL 2*, Nova TV*, Doma TV*, RTL Kockica* Sportska Televizija**.|
|Czech Republic||All channels.|
|North Macedonia||All channels.|
|Romania||Always on 16:9: Antena channels (Antena 1, Antena Stars, Antena 3, Happy, ZU TV, Antena Interna?ional), RCS & RDS channels (including Digi24, U TV, Music Channel), Kiss TV, B1 TV, Telekom Sport, Look TV, Look Plus, WarnerMedia 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)
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.
|San Marino||All channels.|
|United Kingdom||All channels.|
|China||CCTV channels 1-15, CCTV-5+, all CGTN channels. 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 channels.|
|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, KTV, TVRI
*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 and select regions.
****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 versions of nationwide channels may be different from their national version.
|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.|
|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, DZRH News Television
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), TV5, One Sports, GMA 7, A2Z, GTV, IBC 13
*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.
****Some programs are aired in true 16:9 formatting
|Qatar||All beIN Sports channels, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Mubasher, 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 channels.|
|Sri Lanka||All channels|
|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.
|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 HD stations.
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 (ex.: SNT & Paravisión).|
|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.|
|Equatorial Guinea||All channels.|
|Ivory Coast||All channels.|
|South Africa||All channels.|