Nintendo TV service coming Dec. 20

December 19, 2012

After a month’s delay, Nintendo announced Wednesday that it will add its smart TV service to its new Wii U console just in time for Christmas.

The smart television service, Nintendo TVii, was among the most-anticipated features for the new console, which Nintendo put on the market last month as part of a holiday push. But the TV package — which allows users to talk on social networks about live television and offers a unified guide for TV, cable and video services — didn’t launch with the rest of the system. Nintendo didn’t offer an explanation for the delay, only promising that the service would launch sometime in December.

Now, finally, Wii U gamers have a date.

“After Dec. 20, you’ll never look at your TV the same way again,” said Nintendo of America head Reggie Fils-Aime in the release. “Nintendo TVii shows how the integrated second screen of the GamePad can also transform and enhance the TV viewing experience.”

Nintendo is smart to jump on changing video trends with this service. These are efforts that its competitors have also tried to harness. Microsoft’s Xbox Live service offers a unified search — for videos across Nintendo, Hulu and other services — similar to the Wii U’s, but doesn’t include integration with services such as TiVo. Streaming video is becoming a larger part of U.S. consumption, with Netflix alone making up one-third of all bandwidth use.

And second-screen viewing — where users use their smartphones, tablets or other screens to comment on live television — got a boost this week when Nielsen and Twitter announced that they would partner to make a ratings tool based on data from the social network. Giving gamers a way to use their game consoles, televisions and social media accounts at once furthers Nintendo’s goal to, as Fils-Aime put it in an earlier interview with The Post, have “every consumer in the household to pick up the GamePad at least once a day.”

It’s still not clear, though, whether Nintendo’s new console, even with all its bells and whistles, can beat out competitors from Microsoft and Sony this holiday season. In November, the NPD Group reported that the Xbox 360, first released in 2005, still outsold the Wii U console during its launch period. But Nintendo is making a strong push this holiday season across all gaming markets, appealing to its family base with titles like “Super Mario Bros. U” and to hard-core gamers with titles such as “Assassins’ Creed 3” or “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Wii U.”

Related stories:

Wii U launches, still has some growing to do

Xbox outsells Wii U, Wii in weak month for games

Nintendo president regrets day-one updates for Wii U

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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