Nintendo Exec Scott Moffitt Explains How Nintendo TVii Turns On Wii U Entertainment (Q&A)

On December 20, Nintendo will activate the Wii U’s Nintendo TVii functionality, which opens up entertainment programming on the new console and its GamePad device.

While it was originally slated to launch with the Wii U console, Nintendo TVii is beating the Christmas holiday with a Dec. 20 activation in the United States and Canada. The service will support cable and satellite providers in both regions, as well as direct integration with Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus subscriptions in the United States.

Further integration with Netflix subscriptions and TiVo are expected in early 2013 in the United States. Wii U owners with a Netflix subscription can still access the Netflix application from the Wii U system’s main menu and enjoy their favorite content accordingly.

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Scott Moffitt, executive vice president of sales and marketing, explains why Nintendo is investing in entertainment for today’s multi-screen gamers in this exclusive interview.

The Hollywood Reporter: Why did Nintendo decide to embrace more entertainment functionality with the Wii U?

Scott Moffitt: It goes back to the strategy with Wii U. We want it to be an everyday device that’s in the center of the living room. One thing that everyone does every day is entertain themselves with a variety of experiences beyond just gaming; including TV and video chat. And all those things are important for daily usage for a device like this.

THR: Can you explain how Nintendo TVii works?

Moffitt: Nintendo TVii works with your cable system, so we’re not asking anyone to cut the cord. It works with all your video services that you might have like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or any other services you may subscribe to. It will also work with your DVR and anything you might have recorded, or live TV that you get through your cable system. Netflix and TiVo will be available in early 2013.

It scans all of those services and provides entertainment that you want to find. It’s customizable for you or any other member of your family. It recognizes you as the user and searches content that it recommends for you.

It allows you to select the content, enjoy the content, and then interact with the content by posting information to social media sites or your friends so you can comment and interact with the program you’re watching.

THR:How will it utilize the GamePad?

Moffitt: The GamePad is first used to help select the content and search the content. It’s a touch screen GamePad that allows you to scan and search for items that you want to watch. Once you’ve watched it, then you press Play, and it plays on your TV. If you have a streaming service, the movie would play right there on the GamePad, as well as on your TV.

Most importantly, the GamePad allows you to get additional information about the program you’re watching. It may provide you stats for a football game, for example. That’s also where you would post comments on the program you’re watching.

Say you’re watching a game and you want some of your friends to watch it too, you can post a comment to them. They’ll get it on their GamePad, tune into the program, and enjoy that experience with you.

THR: What TV service will TVii support?

Moffitt: New services like Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video are available now and Netflix will be available in early 2013.

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THR: How do you see this growing moving forward?

Moffitt: It will be interesting to see how it evolves and how consumers really embrace it, but we think it’s a revolutionary application for the system. We think it’s going to add a lot of value, and we think consumers are going to really enjoy finding, interacting, and changing the way they watch and enjoy TV.

THR: How will viewers be able to connect with friends through TV?

Moffitt: With the GamePad you’ll be allowed to post comments and share information about what you’re watching with your friends directly through a social media style networking. You can post it out to your Facebook or Twitter account and share things that you’re watching with your friends, and share your comments and your input on those programs.

THR: What have you learned from Nintendo 3DS and Wii entertainment offerings that you’re applying to Nintendo TVii?

Moffitt: The first thing we’ve learned through the Wii, as well as through the 3DS, is that Netflix is a very popular application and service on those consoles and gaming devices. Consumers really are finding a lot of uses beyond just gaming, and that’s great. We have taken that learning, broadened it, and deepened it with what we’re doing with Nintendo TVii. It’s now more interactive and engaging and incorporates a broader range of services such as cable TV.

THR: How have you seen television evolve with second screen viewing in recent years?

Moffitt: What we see evolving is that consumers are really enjoying having a second screen there that provides additional information about the program they’re watching. We talked about sports programming earlier, but it could be a movie that you’re watching. This will integrate with RottenTomatoes, and you can find extra information about the movie you might be watching; actors and other things, that may be very interesting and add value to your viewing experience. That’s the one thing that we’ve learned that I think the GamePad will leverage.

THR: How will Nintendo work with entertainment companies on Nintendo TVii options?

Moffitt: The one difference about Nintendo TVii is it works directly with your cable company, so that’s the first thing. The second is, we are going to include a lot of other instant video services that consumers like and embrace today like Amazon and Netflix. That’s probably the biggest learning that we’re reapplying to this console.