Nintendo To Channel TiVo


Nintendo has announced availability and pricing of their upcoming Wii U console. While the Wii successor finally brings the HD and bundles a 6″ touchscreen tablet-esque controller, I figure Nintendo’s hardware days are numbered… and the sooner they pull a Sega and go software-only, the better. But before we ever get our hands on iPad Metroid or Xbox Zelda, we have the Wii U to contend with this fall — landing November 18th at $300-$350, dependent upon configuration.

Following in the footsteps of Sony and Microsoft, the new Wii U expands their video offerings under the “Nintendo TVii” banner — featuring access to a variety of content and meta data. And, given that Wii-pad, not only do you get a remote control, you’ve acquired a “second screen.” In addition to the requisite streaming services, like Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant, the Wii U appears to go real time with a guide and sports stats. Perhaps less relevant, in sheer numbers, but way more interesting is Nintendo’s new relationship with TiVo.

Details are scarce at the moment, as neither TiVo nor Nintendo care to discuss the specifics. However, we know there will be some interaction between the Wii U and a TiVo DVR. At the very least, we see the ability to schedule TiVo recordings via the Wii-pad. Additionally, Nintendo provides the capability to initiate playback of a TiVo-ed recording. But here’s where things get murky… Based on the very limited intel, it seems the Wii U can also receive streamed TiVo recordings from a DVR in the home. If accurate, is this direct TiVo-to-Wii? Or does it require a TiVo Stream intermediary? Is playback limited to the television or can the Wii controller stand-in for an iPhone or iPad, enabling video throughout the house? Or is the Wiipad merely a souped up TiVo remote? Curiouser and curiouser…

15 thoughts on “Nintendo To Channel TiVo”

  1. Cnet seems to think it will be more like Google TV, then what Sony and Microsoft are currently doing.

    When I originally read about this, I thought that streaming to Wii was almost a given, but the more I read this, the more I think that the Wii might simply act as a control of the TiVo or possibly a passthru. Allowing the GamePad to controll the TiVo, but not actually streaming.

    It would be nice to see streaming to a 3rd party device and technically there’s nothing really preventing it since streaming video is nothing but MPEG-2 or H.264 video encrypted and wrapped in a TiVo header. As long as the Wii U “speaks TiVo” and can decrypt the video there’s nothing really preventing this from working.

    On the other hand, the encryption keys are actually based on the TiVo TSN. Other TiVos on an account get those TSNs (and the decryption keys) from TiVo HQ during daily service connections. Will the Wii U make service connections to TiVo HQ?

  2. I actually forgot about the MAK. The TiVo can encode video for the MAK. That’s the way TiVo Desktop works. So it could be possible to have the Wii U decode the video encoded for the MAK and “stream” it using the same method that TiVo Desktop does.

  3. “Based on the very limited intel, it sure seems like the Wii U can also receive streamed TiVo recordings from a DVR in the home. Is this direct TiVo-to-Wii? Or does it require a TiVo Stream intermediary?”

    Assuming the Wii can actually playback TiVo recordings, I’d bet a large amount it’d require the Stream for numerous reasons.

  4. ‘As long as the Wii U “speaks TiVo” and can decrypt the video there’s nothing really preventing this from working.’

    Perhaps… Then again, as I said on Twitter, you know what’d be cooler than a $300 Nintendo TiVo extender? A $50 Roku TiVo extender. Not to mention the TiVo Mini IP-STB is nearly upon us.

    “Assuming the Wii can actually playback TiVo recordings, I’d bet a large amount it’d require the Stream for numerous reasons.”

    Unless the Series 5 is closer than we think… hm.

  5. I don’t see why the Stream would be required. The only reason the Stream is needed for tablets and smart phones is because they don’t natively support MPEG-2 playback. The Wii U supports MPEG-2 playback so there’s no reason to transcode MPEG-2 to H.264, hence no reason for the Stream.

    Also I doubt people will be buying the Wii U as a TiVo extender. They’ll be buying it for Zelda, Mario, etc….

  6. The Stream could also be required for copy protection reasons… guess we’ll see. Wish TiVo and/or Nintendo would get on the phone with me and be a little more forthcoming. As a TiVo owner, I wouldn’t pre-order a Wii U without knowing more (tho my Gamestop guy told me $25 down would reserve one).

  7. @ Dave
    I REALLY hope this is the first sign of Tivo showing a willingness to work with 3rd parties (other than cable-cos) for streaming and extenders. One day I hope for a Simple.TV-esque Tivo network based DVR that can stream to 3rd party devices via apps or Tivo IP boxes. But maybe I’m fooling myself.

  8. Yeah, while I’ve fixated on the functionality the relationship itself is highly notable. Certainly more-so than the Best Buy TiVo TV. (Verizon and Comcast have been experimenting with similar — live FiOS and Xfinity On Demand on Xbox. Not sure either do recordings yet.)

  9. I love it. TiVo needs to get in bed with more third parties instead of making their customers buy 2nd or 3rd DVRs to use throughout their homes. Hopefully, they expand this to the Xbox and PS3 to give TiVo customers even more reason to use them as their primary DVR.

  10. Chris, over on the TCF, expresses his concerns by describing the worst case scenario. And, in a vacuum of info, we have to consider it.

    “I watched some of the interviews last night on Cnet and there’s nothing at all said by Nintendo to even hint at streaming or playing video aside – specifically, mentioned – movie trailers. This is nothing more than a glorified IR-blasting touchscreen, tablet-sized, remote control.”

  11. Two items:

    a) Pledge groovallegiance to the funk of the United Funk of Funkadelica.

    b) IMHO, you need to switch your Twitter avatar to either your TCF avatar, or your old ‘Dave on TV’ avatar.

  12. I figure Nintendo’s hardware days are numbered… and the sooner they pull a Sega and go software-only, the better.

    Why do you figure that? I hear this sentiment every few years since Sega did it and I’ve yet to hear a justification for it other than people wanting to see Nintendo IP on other devices. Nintendo is financially secure (though they posted their first loss in a long time due to the weak yen and their investment strategies), sitting on a boat-load of cash and has yet to lose money on a console.

    The gamecube was considered a loser by its opponents, but it made money for Nintendo. The DS, DSi and Wii all sold ridiculously large amounts. The 3DS has rebounded after the price-cut and has sold 5+ million units. Compared with the performance of the Sony PS3 and the Sony PS Vita, it’s kind of confusing why people think that Nintendo’s days as a hardware producer are numbered.

    Even though I think Nintendo constantly makes bad choices in the hardware arena (bad for the consumer, not necessarily bad for Nintendo), I don’t see it hurting them. They’ve survived Friend Codes, for pity’s sake.

    I doubt a stream would be necessary for TiVo, too. Given Nintendo’s tight consumer content lockdown on every one of their devices, they probably already meet whatever content restrictions providers would want (including TiVo and the MPAA). Whether or not they have chosen to go that route or not? Well, that we don’t know, yet. Nintendo are masters at letting consumers extrapolate big ideas of what they could be doing, NOT doing it and then saying ‘well, we never said we WOULD be doing that’. Which is incredibly frustrating as a consumer, really.

  13. Well, personally it feels like the Wii U is going to go over very badly given its high price point, so not sure I really care about this.

    I mean seriously, think about the price point for a non-TiVo user… a Wii U at $300+, a TiVo at $200+, a Stream at $130? Plus CableCard and monthly TiVo fees? For a typical user? Doesn’t seem like something they’d jump at just because of the cool remote…

    And no, I don’t think the stream to the Wii U angle is real. I think its just an newfangled remote.

  14. I think you have the approach wrong. This is not a sale to non-TiVo users…it’s a value-add to current TiVo customers.

    I find the reactions to the Wii U price point kind of baffling. $300 is too much for a new console? The PS3 debuted at $600. The Xbox-360 debuted at $400 (for the 20 GB model). And unlike both of those consoles, the controllers from the previous system work on the newer one: given that the Wii has sold 96 million units worldwide, that fact has some traction.

    Would it benefit Nintendo if they could sell it for cheaper? Certainly. But seeing how the deluxe model has already sold-out it’s preorders in some venues, I’m not forseeing catastrophic failure (something Nintendo has never experienced, afaik, except for the virtual boy,which was never intended as a tent-pole). Even when Nintendo loses…they still turned a good profit (see: Gamecube).

  15. So I’ve tracked down the answer we were looking for, with help from i.TV and Nintendo’s PR agency… TiVo video does not pass thru the Wii U. The Wii U (controller) merely initiates playback, via IP communication, on a TiVo. So it’s more remote control than TiVo extender.

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