Nintendo Adding Video To Wii: No Threat Yet To Apple, Cable, Netflix


Some of the companies best positioned to connect your living room to the Internet are those that already have a box hooked up to your TV — like the gaming industry. So it’s no surprise that Nintendo (NTDOY) is teaming up with Japan’s largest ad agency to add video to its Wii video game consoles.

This makes sense: The Wii is already wildly popular, and its main rivals both offer video — Microsoft (MSFT) via its own digital distribution platform and Netflix (NFLX) movie streaming, and Sony (SNE) via its own digital distribution platform and Blu-ray movies.

So what will Nintendo’s video service offer? Nothing that will threaten the cable industry or new entrants like Apple (AAPL) yet: No popular, existing stuff like Hulu shows, but instead, new programs created specially for the service, such as cartoons. (The service will launch in Japan next year; Reuters says the timing for overseas rollout is still unknown.)

Fine and good that Nintendo is betting on a service like this, especially if its ad agency partner Dentsu is footing part of the bill. The Wii is primarily a gaming machine, so any video boost will be a bonus. And who knows — this could be a big, profitable hit in Japan.

But it’s not going to help Nintendo battle the Xbox and PS3 as a video box in the U.S. any time soon — and it’s not going to disrupt the cable industry’s footing as the player to beat in the on-demand video race here.

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