Nintendo plans to launch a video channel for its Wii console in 2009, it said Thursday.
The service, which will be launched in collaboration with advertising agency Dentsu, will initially be available in Japan only where it is expected to launch in the "spring" and be available at no charge. A premium service for which users will be required to pay for content is likely to launch in the middle of the year, Nintendo said. Launch plans for other markets are still under consideration, it said.
The service will focus on family-orientated content as another pillar of Nintendo's drive to encourage interaction between family members around its console. The majority of the 34.6 million Wii consoles sold -- around 80 percent according to company figures -- are hooked-up to living room TVs. However, only 40 percent are connected to the Internet.
In offering video, Nintendo is mirroring Sony and Microsoft, both of which have already started video services. But unlike its rivals, Nintendo's channel differs in its original-content focus. The Sony and Microsoft channels offer programming from TV and Internet sites and motion pictures.
Few other details were offered about the channel and its content although a single screenshot provided by Nintendo shows four family members depicted by their "Mii" avatars sitting around a living room table drinking tea while a TV set in the background shows Wii Fit.
Programming on the service will consist of entirely new shows including cartoons, the Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday. The newspaper pegged an overseas launch for later in 2009.