This morning’s Nintendo Direct conference, at which the North American release date and pricing for Wii U were revealed, held a couple of unexpected game announcements (Bayonetta 2, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate) and confirmed a long standing rumor (Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is coming to the console). Perhaps the most surprising news to come out of the conference is Nintendo TVii, a Wii U app that will allow users to view and interact with a wide range of programming, right from the GamePad.

Exclusive to North America, Nintendo TVii allows users to browse content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, DVRs and live TV on the Wii U GamePad, and enables the GamePad to be used as a remote control for televisions and DVRs. Supplemental information about available programming will be accessible – sports scores, movie reviews and trailers, IMDB listings and more – and users can share their viewing experiences on Facebook, Twitter or Miiverse.

Based on the presentation during this morning’s conference, and the trailer Nintendo has released (above), Nintendo TVii looks to be remarkably robust and polished – and it doesn’t cost a thing.

Nintendo TVii

Every member of a household will have a unique, personalized program guide covering all available programming options. Want to watch Adventure Time? Simply search for it, and Nintendo TVii will tell you what’s available – including upcoming episodes on live television. Tap on one of the results to start watching. Each user’s guide will also include recommendations from both Nintendo TVii and fellow users, in addition to a listing of currently popular programming. Channels and programs can easily be added to a user’s Favorites list, or recommended to other Wii U owners.

Given Nintendo TVii’s ability to access live TV and control DVRs, the question of compatibility looms large. According to Zach Fountain, Director of Network Business at Nintendo, it won’t be a problem. Fountain confirmed to Engadget that Nintendo TVii will support “all” cable TV and satellite services in the United States and Canada. Much like the Comcast iOS apps or HBO Go, users will only need to enter their account information on Wii U to get Nintendo TVii up and running (DVR info will apparently need to be entered on the web).

There is no question that Nintendo TVii is highly ambitious, and well outside the kinds of services we’ve grown to expect from Nintendo (during the Nintendo Direct conference, Reggie Fils-Aime called it “the most different non-gaming initiative Nintendo has ever introduced”). It’s also a genuinely exciting addition to the Wii U, and an indication that Nintendo is taking the battle for players’ living rooms as seriously as either Microsoft or Sony.

Ranters, what are your first impressions of Nintendo TVii? Does it affect your plans to buy a Wii U? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Wii U releases November 18, 2012, in North America.

Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.

Source: Nintendo, Engadget

tags: Nintendo, Wii U