Nintendo Sets Sights on Living Room Entertainment With New TVii Service

Along with announcing the launch date and price for the Wii U, Nintendo unveiled TVii, a new application that streams video to the TV.

At an event in New York City, Nintendo’s North American President Reggie Fils-Aime said TVii will let Wii U owners in the U.S. and Canada access content across multiple providers, such as Netflix and Hulu.

But as with many streaming TV services for the home, it is more of a fancy remote control or elaborate directory than it is a replacement for how you watch TV and, more importantly, how you pay for it.

The service will be the most useful for those who continue to pay for cable or satellite TV, along with other on-demand services, making it comparable to what Microsoft’s Xbox provides today.

The Nintendo Wii U will cost $300 for the basic package, which includes one GamePad controller and 8 GB of memory. The deluxe edition comes with 32 GB of storage and the Nintendo Land videogame. The Wii U comes out Nov. 18 in the U.S., and both editions will have access to the TVii service for free.

Using the touchscreen on the GamePad controller, which looks a lot like a tablet computer, Nintendo TVii users can search or browse for content from across a variety of sources, including an existing TiVo account, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. It will also stream live content to the TV, but only if the user subscribes to cable or satellite TV services.

Nintendo said TVii will support any cable or satellite provider.

When searching for content, users can browse by channel or for recommendations that may be provided by Nintendo or by friends. Once a show starts playing on the TV, the GamePad can then be used to view auxiliary information about the content from Wikipedia or IMDb.com, for example. Additionally, short video segments, or thumbnails, can be viewed from the device, which can be shared with friends via Twitter, Facebook or the Wii U’s social network called Miiverse. The best example for this service was for sports programming, where users could check out stats on the players and then comment on what’s happening in the game.

The service will also have access to free content, such as YouTube.

Nintendo said TVii was developed in close collaboration with i.TV, which distributes a popular TV directory app on iTunes.


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