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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nintendo TVii: One Generation Too Late

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - One of our competitors we regularly beat in ratings is gone.

The market for your viewing time is heavily saturated. At the top, the best TV around is only at KoopaTV. But below that we have our competitors like Mario Kart TV, F-Zero TV, and CainTV. There is also TV Tropes, but we partnered with 'em so they ain't really competition. And at the bottom of the totem pole was Nintendo TVii, a channel trying to be so hiip that they're spelling with two 'i's.

Nintendo TVii was discontinued August 11 (the 11 corresponds to the two 'i's) and a Wii U System Update (5.5.0 U) was pushed out to remove it from your Wii U in-game menus with nothing to replace it. What was Nintendo TVii? That question ended up being a hard one for Nintendo to answer.

Nintendo TVii was Reggie Fils-Aime's personal pet project for the Wii U's launch in North America, as explained by the only-ever Reggie Asks on the subject. Reggie saw himself as a media consumption mogul. As for TVii, you were supposed to use it to connect with your television subscription services such as your cable/satellite provider to find content you'd like, watch it, and engage with it.

Nintendo TVii logo
This isn't Nintendo providing their own content to watch.
That was Nintendo Video, which had its own issues.

Basically, here's the value proposition as explained in Reggie Asks:
"Nintendo TVii addresses this changing landscape [of complicated and diverse methods of spectator entertainment] by bringing together everything you need – a personalized guide, a super remote, and a social TV experience – into one seamless application on the GamePad. This makes watching TV easier and fun."
There's a big problem, though: Their assumptions came out to be fundamentally incorrect.

Nintendo and their partner on this project, i.TV (which seems to have gone inactive recently), believed that the Wii U and its GamePad would be the dominant player in the living room, or at least would sit in it. They thought that the success of the Wii, which did sit in the living room, would transfer to its successor.

Nintendo TVii football screenshot GamePad TV Tag feature
Personally, seeing this dude smudge his touch-screen with his finger is alienating me.

Nintendo has this to say about their i.TV partnership, also from Reggie Asks:
"In addition, many companies we evaluated were designing UIs that we believed were too complicated for everyone. We wanted to build an experience that everyone would find simple and intuitive, and i.TV was also committed to that philosophy."
Simple and intuitive UI? Sounds great in theory...until you look at the end result?

Nintendo TVii UI user interface American Idol wheel
I wasn't even trying to be sassy: My first reaction when seeing that control wheel was,
"What the hell is that thing and how did they expect people to understand that?"

But if the design philosophies are correct, then TVii should have inevitably and eventually have reached a satisfactory good ending, right? And there was some greatness in their thinking. According to Reggie Asks, Brad of i.TV got his inspiration from the 2008 presidential debates, again proving KoopaTV's point that presidential debates inspire great things in people:
"When we first released our TV guide for smartphones, it happened to be the presidential election in the Unites States four years ago, and the week of the launch, we were watching people use a new feature in our app where you could post a review about what you were watching. During the presidential debate, they were debating with each other—the users, in this case—back and forth by using the review feature, which was not intended for that purpose at all. Then it dawned on us that we'd built this great TV guide, but now people wanted to be able to engage around what they were watching. And so we began development of something beyond just the guide itself."
Central to the Wii U's social experience — besides talking to your family in your living room — was Miiverse integration. ...Yeah, so even before Miiverse began its downhill descent with increasingly more restrictive updates, no one used the TVii community on Miiverse. (It's deleted entirely now with no archive, so just take my word for it.) Almost all of that was in-app-generated posts, so that should tell you people didn't use the social features of TVii. Or any part of it. Here's Reggie on more features:
"I'm a big sports fan and whenever I'm talking about Nintendo TVii, highlighting the sports applications is a really interesting area."
And here's another fundamental assumption flaw: Most Wii U owners would be sports fans. While it may be true that the Wii had a lot of folks who would play Wii Sports and then watch a sports game on their TV right after, Wii U owners are a very different demographic than that mainstream crowd. Wii U owners are hardcore videogame fans who would rather be playing videogames than watching football.

Personally, I have my Wii U in my room with a TV monitor. The TV was never hooked up with Cable (that was the living room) or anything. It just had an antenna with local channels, and then we just got rid of that too 'cause I never watched 'em and the antenna was takin' space. So basically I got a TV that's forever on "Input" for my Wii U, along with the red-yellow-white cables for the GameCube. If I watch TV, I do it somewhere else. And it's probably Fox News. (Like every Sunday at 10 PM Eastern to watch the Greg Gutfeld Show, like we did during E3 2015!)

And Fox News sounds like a terrible thing to share to people on Miiverse. A place where you're not supposed to talk about politics.

Once again, Nintendo TVii would've actually been used had it been introduced six years earlier with the Wii. It just feels like an application the Wii would have. It's even named like one. We could've been introduced to this trifecta all at once: The Wii, Miis, and TVii. Whether or not the technology existed back then is another thing, but it's not good business to pursue good ideas at the wrong times. And I acknowledge: It is a good idea. It should've worked. But the market where it would have thrived passed by Nintendo at the time, and their catch-up failed.

i.TV Nintendo TVii partnership Wii U
And it's not good business to be falsely advertising, i.TV. (Screenshot from their website as of publish date.)

So, yeah, now that TVii has been removed from the ratings charts, that just leaves KoopaTV one step closer to the bottom. We don't intend to reach there, and with your help, we'll stay afloat with awesome original content!

You can also get rewarded for your "engagement" with KoopaTV. Check out the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program for more information! Round 3 ends in less than two weeks! Anyway, Ludwig hardly watches television or Internet-based subscription services, but did this article imply that every other gamer is just like him? Let Ludwig know in the comments section how you're different, but then explain your feelings towards Nintendo TVii! Or comment about anything else you want.


  1. I watch very little TV to start with, and when I do... it's just through the TV. I don't think I ever even loaded TVii.

    1. I CAN'T load TVii because it requires you to input information on your service providers that I don't have.

  2. The only time I actually used the app was when there a contest specifically suited for it. In other words, pretty much never.

    1. Oh yeah! There was that Kid's Choice Awards thing with it.

      I wonder how many people tried to do that but were befuddled on how.

  3. I've never heard of this before, evidently i didn't miss much. My first thought was that they should have just gone all the way and called it the TWii, but i guess that would lead to more people thinking of it as a Wii add-on. Quite honestly, I'd rather switch shows on the big tv screen where i can see everything clearly, as opposed to the tiny gamepad that I can't even take that far from the WiiU anyway.

    Not that it matters since this is forever dead and buried. I doubt this is anything that'd come up in Nintendo retrospectives, soon entire generations (like ours) will have no idea the TVii ever existed. Oh the humanity!

    1. It's a stain on Reggie's legacy, so Nintendo historians want it forgotten.

  4. It`s sad how so little information has been saved about this, the page doesnt have a backup, unlike Miiverse, ive heard of a project aiming to reviving Nintendo TVii

    1. Revive TVii? That... doesn't seem like a useful project to put effort into.

    2. It being useless hardly matters. Nobody needs to order food through their Wii when using a phone or even computer would be miles quicker and easier, yet efforts were made to revive the Food Delivery Channel. Same with literally all the old Wii channels except the TV Friend one, which I'm sure will come soon. How many people are actually using Youtube on the Wii U or 3DS? Yet they revived it on both anyway.

      There were thoughts about reviving this in the form of Project Espresso and they did figure some stuff out, though I'm not sure it went anywhere meaningful since the lead programmer was a 13 year-old and the overall team was very small.

      With Nintendo Network shutting down next April, there's a lot more pressure to archive and revive stuff on 3DS and Wii U. Nintendo TVii will likely be low on the priority list compared to creating servers for the popular Wii U/3DS games and finishing up the Miiverse revival, and even in terms of other stock apps the Wii U chat app would likely be prioritized, but I definitely wouldn't be surprised if it came in a few years. It's always worth preserving stuff like this, especially the things that were largely forgotten.

    3. There was a Food Delivery Channel?

    4. Yeah, it was Japan exclusive on the Wii. Shut down in 2017 I think; lasted even longer than the Wii U itself did lol. The revival only supports Dominos and some UK exclusive place right now but there are plans to add several more eventually.


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