Video Streaming (Finally) Coming to the Wii

In a move that will leave many saying "it's about time," the Nintendo Wii game console will finally be getting a streaming video service. Reuters reports that starting in early 2009 in Japan, Nintendo and ad agency Dentsu are partnering to launch the video-streaming service, which will become available "overseas" (presumably in Europe and the U.S.) later in the year.

Before Wii owners get too excited with the vision of Netflix streaming movies dancing in their heads, so far all that has been announced is that the new service will "offer cartoons and other entertainment programmes created for the new service to differentiate it from other online content delivery operations, which often offer existing programmes." The implication is that the streaming videos available for the Wii will mostly be original content. If this is the case, this will be sure to disappoint many Wii owners who have been hoping for streaming offerings similar to what are now available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3: Xbox LIVE Gold members who are also subscribers to any of Netflix's unlimited plans can watch any of Netflix's 12,000 or so Watch Now streaming movies and TV shows on their Xbox 360; and PS3 owners can not only rent or purchase movies and TV show downloads from the free PlayStation Network, but they can also use their PS3s as a Blu-ray player.

 Worldwide console sales (Credit: VG Chartz)
According to VG Chartz, of the three big gaming consoles, the Wii is easiest the most popular, having sold 43.75 million units worldwide, giving it almost 50 percent of the console market. VG Chartz states that 26.49 million Xbox 360s have sold worldwide (29.7 percent), and the PS3 has sold 18.82 million (21.1 percent). (Note that in a different Reuters story, Reuters reports that 34.6 million Wii consoles have sold worldwide.)

Reuters also states that some of the content will be free and include advertising, while other content will be pay-per-view--similar to the PS3. If full-length movies and TV shows are not part of the mix, it will difficult to gauge how well this new feature for the Wii will be received. Even if the content selection includes popular anime titles, it will likely have limited appeal outside of Japan. If Nintendo truly sees this as an opportunity to generate additional revenue as well as an enticement to sell even more Wii consoles in the U.S., it will need to compete with the Xbox 360 and PS3 on a more-even footing, by offering popular movie and TV titles.