updated 11:10 am EST, Tue February 21, 2012
Nintendo Wii U may become general-purpose
Nintendo might transform the Wii U into a full media hub if mentions of early discussions are accurate. AdWeek had heard this weekend that Nintendo had been in talks with "several major media companies," including music and sports providers in backroom CES chats last month. The console designer was even said considering a cable TV deal with Comcast, similar to the Xbox 360's live TV.
One contact was careful to warn that any negotiations "could go nowhere" at the current stage, in part as a reflection of the company's difficulty getting non-gaming content. Plans for 3D music videos and other shorts on the 3DS have mostly fizzled. The company was also late to adding professional video and added Netflix to its consoles last year whole just getting Hulu Plus last week.
The strategy would be an attempt to emulate the general purpose media hubs that Nintendo has seen gradually take hold in the living room, most of all the Xbox 360. Having a game console that can also supply movies, music, and other services helps justify the presence of the system in the face of Blu-ray players, Internet-aware TVs, and dedicated media devices like the Apple TV or a Roku Internet Player.
Adding these to the Wii U could be critical. Along with giving the TV console its best possible start, deals could give the Wii U an advantage that its peers lack. The 6.2-inch touchscreen controller can stream wireless audio, gameplay, and video without requiring that the TV be switched over, giving an option for homes where a family member might want to watch video without interrupting what's on TV. Although the wireless is short-ranged, it could help some homes defer the need for an iPad or another tablet.