Yes, it's true that Nintendo has been so wildly successful in so many new fields lately. Any company that can get 14 million people around the world to buy weighing scales and somehow see that as a fun thing deserves all the kudos the world can provide. But delivering video content to Wii users over the internet is a huge undertaking, one that I don't think will benefit the company at all.
First of all, people already have TVs. They already have iPhone video. They already have hulu.com and netflix. They already have flash movies on the web, and youtube, PS3 and Xbox360 movie downloads, and on, and on. People already have a plethora of choices if they want to watch something. Why should Nintendo get into that crowded marketplace filled with so many hungry, innovative, and established competitors? Nintendo's success today came because they've opted out of one rat-race (the HD rat race), why negate the smartest strategic move this generation by jumping right into another one?
Of course, Nintendo's done one right thing in planning to use all original, all exclusive content. If they were simply offering the same old movies and TV shows, the service would have even less marketshare than the Wii Opera browser. But that brings up another concern: who's going to manage this whole enterprise? Nintendo's current weather channel and news channel are nice, small, localized situations where very specific data is provided by very specific partners. But in an online video download service where all the content is unique, who's going to be in charge of buying that content from the dozens of different groups who'll provide it? Who's going to vet the programs for quality? And since all the content will be unique and therefore implicitly vetted by Nintendo, who's going to make sure that the material is Wii-friendly? There's a huge production process this enterprise would require, one that Nintendo has no experience in.
Now, that's another thing: Nintendo could probably afford to chase this, but wouldn't it be a colossal distraction to set up? Doing this small scale would be so niche as to not be worth the effort, so Nintendo would have to make a substantial effort. In fact, with online video content delivery already an exploited marketplace and the requirement to create some sort of broadcasting sub-division to handle specifically this, it'd be a herculean task to bring this to completion. That's energy that Nintendo would be better advised spending doing the one thing they do best: making some of the best games in the world, and the hardware to play them on. The Wii 2 is NOT going to make itself you know? The next-generation is not going to get handed to Nintendo on a silver platter, and there is a very belligerent set of people just waiting for them to fail. That should be a more pressing concern for Nintendo than streaming some exclusive anime or gameshow or melodrama to people who could instead be playing games.
Wait a sec, that's ANOTHER thing. Games. Remember the last company that made a huge hullabaloo about getting people watching movies and playing games on the same device? Yeah. Sony. With the PSP and the PS3. I think that track record speaks for itself. Learn from Sony's example Nintendo! Getting more people using the device is a good thing, but the entire thinking behind this is to get them to purchase games, and the market's already shown what happens in situations like these. No games bought, no licensing fees, no third-parties, and eventually everyone is going to claim that Nintendo's pulled a blu-ray. I'm a Nintendo fanboy, not a Sony one.
And besides, aren't we supposed to be taking these lapsed gamers and non-gamers and new gamers and casuals and perform that mythical "up-market" push? I'm sorry, but I was under the impression that the movies and TV I watch are less interactive than the games I play, not more. We've got an entire generation of gamers who've just picked up a Wii Remote, why are we making them put it back down? I thought that this was the entire point of Nintendo's disruption and what Iwata's been saying: save the industry by making new gamers. Save games. Not TV.
Maybe Nintendo's drunk with success. Or maybe they're exploring all their options. Heaven knows that this sort of craziness isn't new: Nintendo tried to take the NES online so you could bet on horse races, and even before that I've heard that Nintendo was wrapped up in everything from love motels to taxis to instant rice. But online video distribution is a minefield for a company like Nintendo, and it's a minefield that lies exactly opposite the direction in which they should be traveling.
Wii Sports was a revelation that exposed all this unexplored potential that videogames had never explored before. The last thing we need right now is Wii Couch Potato.