Why Nintendo TVii might outperform Xbox Live and PSN’s as a media service

Microsoft and Sony have made great strides to turn their gaming systems into entertainment platforms. Xbox 360 got Netflix then the PS3 got Netflix, and then the PlayStation Network got Hulu and then Xbox Live got Hulu. For years they've traded services, mirroring each other nearly every step of the way while the Wii lagged behind, getting everything late. Yesterday, Nintendo finally unveiled its formal rebuttal to Sony and Microsoft's services: the interesting (albeit unfortunately-named) Nintendo TVii.

And, of course, the internet immediately began thinking of ways to make fun of the service, saying it was Nintendo struggling to play catch-up to its competitors, or that it was a worthless feature, or that it simply wasn't all that impressive. These people, though, are missing the point completely. Nintendo TVii isn’t Nintendo slapping media services into the Wii U--it’s Nintendo actually turning the Wii U into a complete, potentially superior service.

When it comes to being a media service, and strictly a media service, it looks like there's a good chance that it'll be the best one. Being able to use the GamePad’s screen instead of the television to navigate menus puts it ahead of Sony and Microsoft, and the fact that it’s more of a stand-alone program than what’s found on Xbox or PlayStation should make it easier to use for most--especially those uninterested in sorting through menus or searching through Xbox Live’s thousands of purchasable videos on Bing. This, alone, makes it stand out, but where it differs most is in what it actually does, and what it can be used for.

Once inside Nintendo TVii, you're looking not at Nintendo's version of Xbox Live, but its take on Roku or Google TV. Searching for a movie or a television show brings up results from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Wikipedia, and IMDB. Clicking on an episode of Breaking Bad will allow you to look at the show's Wiki or IMDB page, finding out more information before digging in. But it’s more than just streaming options--more important is that it also shows your cable provider's results, as well as giving you access to your Tivo.

Watch our interview with Nintendo about the feature

With this seemingly small addition, Nintendo TVii goes from media hub to super crazy universal remote, allowing you to DVR things with TiVo (and, hopefully, other DVR services in the future), tag movies as favorites on Netflix, and even set up different favorites. Having different profiles for each person adds a social element that none of these other systems have, letting you personalize your experience further by favoriting television series or movies without needing to make additional Xbox Live or PlayStation Network accounts. Forget trying to find your favorite shows on Comcast's archaic menus--my experience with the GamePad and Nintendo TVii made the process of finding shows to watch a breeze, truly updating the entertainment experience.

The ability to answer polls on the GamePad while watching is revolutionary in concept. Seriously. Sure, it might not be all that exciting for you, but imagining what effects it might have on the average TV watcher is incredible. It seems silly to vote on which character's halloween costume on Modern Family was the best, but imagine voting on a singer in American Idol or a person on Survivor right from your remote, or being able to follow everyone tweeting about a show as it happens.

Though this isn't implemented yet, it's easy to see some awesome, interactive elements being added in to shows. Seeing a football score ticker, or being able to watch replays on the screen would add usefulness to the service, turning it into a two-screen experience without needing to search around for websites to complain about things on. Sure, many of these elements could be completed by using an iPad or a laptop, but neither also functions as a remote for the TV.

So be snarky if you want, and scoff if you feel that's best. But, the next time you scroll past a dozen advertisements as you make your way into the Xbox 360's awful redesigned Netflix UI, remember that the Wii U is right around the corner, and it's about to become the best universal remote you'll ever own. Oh, and it'll eventually play Bayonetta 2, so there's that.

You know that kid at parties who talks too much? Drink in hand, way too enthusiastic, ponderously well-educated in topics no one in their right mind should know about? Loud? Well, that kid’s occasionally us. GR Editorials is a semi-regular feature where we share our informed insights on the news at hand. Sharp, funny, and finger-on-the-pulse, it’s the information you need to know even when you don’t know you need it.


Nintendo TVii


  • onetimebuster - September 16, 2012 2:17 p.m.

    As long as i can play games im happy.
  • yonderTheGreat - September 16, 2012 2:46 p.m.

    So... TVii is going to live up to the potential of SmartGlass?
  • TheMariner - September 16, 2012 9:16 p.m.

    In terms of how it integrates the tablet with the console to augment what you're watching, yes. However SmartGlass has a slight advantage in that the Wii U Gamepad cannot operate without the Wii U.
  • shawksta - September 16, 2012 3:48 p.m.

    I really don't care about Media Services, I own game systems for games and interactions about games, im just not a "Hey let's watch/listen to music on your console" person, Good for Nintendo on TVii and what you think about it being better or what not, im probably not gonna use it, just like I barely used half the things on my 360 that were unnecessary media stuff
  • RonnyLive19881 - September 16, 2012 4:08 p.m.

    Rofl, smart glass will fail harder than Kinect.
  • Larinah - September 16, 2012 6:32 p.m.

    This feature alone is making me a day-one purchaser. I can't wait to have a system that actually *works* as an entertainment hub!
  • BladedFalcon - September 16, 2012 6:36 p.m.

    Well, it sounds interesting, to be sure, although no matter how you try to sell it, whatever the WiiPad screen might be showing while I'm watching a TV show, i don't want to distract myself with it. When i watch a show, I focus on the show, not on checking polls or playing minigames. Imagine how that would work, watching shows such as Breaking Bad XD Of course, that is just my very personal take on it, and because I watch mostly shows that are meant to be paid constant attention to, and not stuff like reality TV shows or contest shows, to which I suppose it could make for an interesting new addition, but again, not for me.
  • Corn - September 16, 2012 8:42 p.m.

    They already have that for Breaking Bad, the Story Sync, and it's been a major push for them this past 8 episodes. So Breaking Bad is pretty much the single worst example you could have used, because the people want you to be answering polls and stuff like this while watching it.
  • BladedFalcon - September 16, 2012 9:01 p.m.

    Just because they are doing it for the show, it doesn't mean it's a good idea. And if you noticed, i as speaking for myself, not other people. When i want to watch the show, i wanna get into it, and not distract myself with trivia at the same time, which is something I could do later if I wanted to.
  • garnsr - September 16, 2012 10:47 p.m.

    I like getting trivia while I'm watching, myself. These all sound like things that are bandied about whenever any of the platforms start talking about the amazing things their system will do, but none of them end up doing many of the special operations they promise, and so far Nintendo's been the worst at following up on promising additions. I guess at some point someone has to actually put all these obvious uses of the technology we have now into use, though.
  • Fuzunga - September 16, 2012 7:05 p.m.

    I wonder if you can use the controller screen to watch TV. Now THAT would be cool.
  • Dan3791 - September 16, 2012 8:01 p.m.

    Wow, Nintendo is on top... for now. I'm not surprised to see that the wii u's wii tvii will be the most up-to-date media outlet around... but come on... isn't it a bit too late. Once the new PlayStation and/or the next Xbox come out Nintendo will, again, fall behind (at least for core gamers). Side note... ps vital can do the whole control the menu thing with the ps3 system.
  • KnowYourPokemon - September 17, 2012 2:04 p.m.

    It's not really late. And I don't get this whole idea that since the WiiU came out first it's doomed to be behind in every way shape or form. The 360 came out first of it's generation and of course it had the red ring issue but otherwise it didn't fall behind once the other systems came out by any means.
  • Alkaid - September 16, 2012 8:50 p.m.

    Remember the days when game consoles...well played games? I miss those times.
  • TheMariner - September 16, 2012 9:12 p.m.

    Because they don't play games anymore, right?
  • SpiritTemple - September 17, 2012 12:31 a.m.

  • zombi3grim - September 16, 2012 9:04 p.m.

    The days of your console only being made to play games and the focus soley on games is over. The sooner people realize that the better time they'll have adjusting to new tech. Otherwise, their going to end up like the senior citizens who still dont know how to use a 90s webcam... Im excited for this. Like BladedFalcoln said, I also watch shows that you pretty much have to pay constant attention to, but Im not averse to pausing every now and then and checking out extra features. Or possibly features after the episode is over. This doesnt seem to work well with shows like Dexter or Supernatural, unless again, you check out the extras after the show. But with American Idol or any other kind of reality tv, like Ghost Hunters and Discovery Channel or History Channel, I can REALLY see this being very usefull.
  • beemoh - September 17, 2012 12:24 a.m.

    >It seems silly to vote on which character's halloween costume on Modern Family was the best, but imagine voting on a singer in American Idol or a person on Survivor right from your remote Thing is, they've tried online and mobile voting for reality shows in the UK- it didn't work. This might work for flavour polls, as a bit of fun for superfans, but wouldn't work as a voting mechanism for such shows.
  • tehtimeisnow - September 17, 2012 1:31 a.m.

    ha ah no i dout that cuz 360 alredy as the perfect media servece
  • SpiritTemple - September 17, 2012 2:50 a.m.

    I was just waiting for your comment, get on Gamesradar more!

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