16:9 aspect ratio

16:9 (1.77:1 = 42:32) is an aspect ratio with a width of 16 units and height of 9.

Since 2009, it has become the most common aspect ratio for televisions and computer monitors and is also the international standard format of HDTV, Full HD, non-HD digital television and analog widescreen television. This has replaced the old 4:3 aspect ratio.


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,[1] when nobody was creating 16:9 videos. The popular choices in 1980 were: 1.33:1 (based on television standard's ratio at the time), 1.66:1 (the European "flat" ratio), 1.85:1 (the American "flat" ratio), 2.20:1 (the ratio of 70 mm films and Panavision) and 2.35:1 (the CinemaScope 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 1.77:1 and all of them also covered a smaller common inner rectangle with the same aspect ratio 1.77:1.[2] The value found by Powers is exactly the geometric mean of the extreme aspect ratios, 4:3 (1.33:1) and 2.35:1 (or 64:27, see also 21:9 aspect ratio for more information), 47/15 ≈ 1.770 which is coincidentally close to 16:9 (1.77:1). 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.[3]

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[4] 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,[5] 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 228 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".[6]

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".[7] Since computer displays are advertised by their diagonal measure, for monitors with the same display area, a wide screen monitor will have a larger diagonal measure, thus sounding more impressive. Within limits, the amount of information that can be displayed, and the cost of the monitor depend more on area than on diagonal measure.

In March 2011, the 16:9 resolution 1920×1080 became the most common used resolution among Steam's users. The earlier most common resolution was 1680×1050 (16:10).[8]


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[lower-alpha 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.

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

Common resolutions for 16:9 are listed in the table below:

19201080Full HD
384021604K UHD
768043208K UHD
15360864016K UHD

By country

In Europe

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.

Country Channel
 Albania All channels.
 Andorra Andorra Televisió.
 Armenia All channels.
 Austria All channels.
 Azerbaijan All channels (except Lider TV).
 Belarus All channels (except +TV, TV-3 Belarus).
 Belgium All channels.
 Bosnia and Herzegovina All channels.
 Bulgaria All channels.
 Cyprus 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.
 Denmark All channels.
 Estonia All channels.
 Finland All channels.
 France All channels on digital terrestrial television
Most subscription-based networks
 Germany All channels.
 Georgia All channels (except Rustavi 2, Comedy Arkhi, Ertsulovneba, Mall TV, Marneuli, Gurjaani).
 Greece All channels.
 Hungary All channels.
 Iceland All three national stations broadcast in 16:9 with occasional 4:3 programmes. Local stations still use 4:3.
 Ireland All channels.
 Italy All channels (expect TGS, Tele One and Video 66).
 Kazakhstan All channels (except STV).
 Latvia All channels.
 Lithuania All channels.
 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.
 Montenegro All channels.
 Netherlands All channels.
 North Macedonia All channels.
 Norway 16:9 is the national standard for television  almost all channels conform to this format.
 Poland All channels.
 Portugal All channels.
 Romania Always on 16:9: Antena channels (Antena 1, Antena Stars, Antena 3, Happy, ZU TV, Antena Internațional), 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 Internațional), Kanal D
Always on 4:3: Realitatea TV, România TV
Always on 4:3 with 16:9 stretched: CNM channels (Național TV, Național 24 Plus, Favorit TV), TVR regional channels (TVR Cluj, TVR Craiova, TVR Iași, TVR Tîrgu-Mureș, TVR Timișoara), Prima TV.
 Russia All channels (except Spas, some channels from CTC Media (Che and CTC Love), some channels from VGTRK (Russian Bestseller, Russian Detective, Cinema, Sarafan, Live Planet, History, Mama, Ani), 2x2, some channels from UTH Russia (U and Disney Channel)).
 San Marino San Marino RTV.
 Serbia All channels.
 Slovakia All nationwide channels.
 Slovenia All channels.
 Spain All channels.
 Sweden All channels.
  Switzerland All channels.
 Turkey All channels.
 Ukraine All nationwide channels (except UA:Ternopil, First Kiev, Vintage TV, Rada TV, ChePe.Info, Glas, EWTN, Novyi Hristianskiy, Boutique TV).
 United Kingdom All terrestrial channels.

In Oceania

Country Channel
 Australia All channels.
 Fiji All channels.
 New Zealand All channels.

In Asia

Japan's Hi-Vision originally started with a 5:3 ratio but converted when the international standards group introduced a wider ratio of 513 to 3 (=16:9).

Country Channel
 Afghanistan All channels.
 Bangladesh SA TV.
 Cambodia All channels.
 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.

16:9 with inner 4:3***: RCTI, SCTV, Indosiar

4:3, upscaled/stretched to 16:9****: TVRI, MNCTV, antv, GTV, tvOne, iNews, rtv

*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.

 Iran All channels.
 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.
 Jordan All channels.
 Kyrgyzstan All channels.
 Lebanon LBCI.4:3 Shows are stretched

National Broadcasting Network (Lebanon). Its in HD and has no 4:3 content Future Television.

 Malaysia All channels.
 Mongolia MNB & MN2, TM Television, TV5, TV6, TV8, Channel 25, Эx Орон, SBN, ETV, MNC, Eagle News TV, Edutainment TV, Star TV, SPS, Sportbox and SHUUD TV.
 Myanmar All channels.
   Nepal Kantipur Television Network

AP1 TV News 24 (Nepal) TV Filmy

 Oman All channels.
 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)***, 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), TV5, 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.
 Syria All channels.
 Thailand All channels.
 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.

In the Americas

Country Channel
 Argentina All channels.
 Barbados All channels.
 Bolivia Always on 16:9: PAT, ATB.
Often on 16:9: Bolivia TV.
 Brazil Almost all channels.
 Canada Almost all channels.
 Chile All channels
 Colombia All channels, except Citytv
 Costa Rica All channels.
 Dominican Republic All channels.
 Ecuador All channels.
 Jamaica 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.

 Panama All channels.
 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 nationalwide 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.
 Uruguay All channels.
 Venezuela All channels.

In Africa

Country Channel
 Angola All channels.
 Botswana All channels.
 Burkina Faso All channels.
 Cameroon All channels.
 Cape Verde All channels.
 Comoros All channels.
 Congo All channels.
 Djibouti 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.
 Eritrea All channels.
 Ethiopia All channels.
 Gabon All channels.
 Ghana All channels.
 Ivory Coast All channels.
 Kenya All channels.
 Lesotho All channels.
 Liberia All channels.
 Libya Libya 24.
 Madagascar All channels.
 Malawi All channels.
 Mali All channels.
 Morocco Al Aoula.
 Mozambique All channels.
 Mauritius All channels.
 Namibia All channels.
 Nigeria All channels.
 Rwanda All channels.
 Senegal All channels.
 Somalia All channels.
 South Africa 16:9 is the standard broadcast format for most digital channels and all HDTV broadcasts all main channels.
 Sudan All channels.
 Togo All channels.
 Tunisia All channels.
 Uganda All channels.
 Zimbabwe All channels.

See also


  1. The 2.39:1 ratio is commonly labeled 2.40:1, e.g., in the American Society of Cinematographers' American Cinematographer Manual, and is mistakenly referred to as 2.35:1 (only cinema films before the 1970 SMPTE revision used 2.35:1).


  1. Searching for the Perfect Aspect Ratio (PDF),
  2. "Understanding Aspect Ratios" (Technical bulletin). CinemaSource. The CinemaSource Press. 2001. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
  3. US 5956091, "Method of showing 16:9 pictures on 4:3 displays", issued 1999-09-21
  4. Baker, I (1999-08-25). "Safe areas for widescreen transmission" (PDF). EBU. CH: BBC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  5. "Television in the 16:9 screen format" (legislation summary). EU: Europa. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
  6. "Product Planners and Marketers Must Act Before 16:9 Panels Replace Mainstream 16:10 Notebook PC and Monitor LCD Panels, New DisplaySearch Topical Report Advises". DisplaySearch. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
  7. "Widescreen monitors: Where did 1920×1200 go? « Hardware « MyBroadband Tech and IT News". Mybroadband.co.za. 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
  8. "Steam Hardware & Software Survey". Steam. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
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