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Iwata Asks: In Commemoration, Part 4 - Nintendo TVii

Iwata Asks - Nintendo TVii Part 2: A Rich TV Guide Right at your Finger Tips

by Matt Walker - July 26, 2016, 6:30 am EDT

Part 2 of Nintendo TVii

2. A Rich TV Guide Right at your Finger Tips

Iwata - With that, I’d like to begin asking about Nintendo TVii in Japan.

Firstly, one aspect of Nintendo TVii is that it’s an electronic TV guide, but if you were just interested in looking at a list of tv times, pressing the program time table button on your TV remote already gives you access to that kind of program guide on most recent TVs, right? For homes that already have that functionality, what added value does Nintendo TVii provide?

Kamigawa - To start, some of the differences include being able to control it with the touch screen of the Wii U GamePad, and the fact that it’s right there at your finger tips for easy access. I think some of the big advantages are that you can go ahead and see what’s on if the Wii U GamePad is nearby, even if the TV isn’t on, and that you can see what’s on while you’re watching TV, without any need to block the screen.

Iwata - Ah, indeed that has a lot of merit - not losing what you’re watching on the tv when you want to look something up.

Oda - A lot of TV guides that are built into your TV are fairly hard to read unless you’re close to the tv. You certainly feel that there’s a certain feeling of relief you get from having it right there at your finger tips, and that it’s easy to read.

Iwata - I’m near-sighted, so I would always get close to the TV to read the TV guide and thought to myself “what am I doing?” This solves that problem, doesn’t it! (laughs)

Oda - We also went to the lengths of providing a special font so that the TV guide lettering was readable on the Wii U GamePad. Additionally, based on marketing data indicating that most TV viewers limit their searches to within 2-3 hours from when they’re viewing the guide, we designed it so that 2 hours worth of content was easily viewable.

Iwata - There’s that, and also it’s not particularly easy to input characters with a TV remote control, is it? There are some TV guides that provide search functionality, but I never felt particularly inclined to use it because I’ve never been a fan of input using the remote.

Oda - And we allow both keyboard like input as well as handwriting recognition. We’ve provided different input styles so anyone can easily use it. There’s even a way to just touch and select what you want if you’re just searching the timetable

Also, for Nintendo TVii we’ve partnered up with IPG(※9)for the actual data, so not only do we get the program information itself, but information like program logos, screens from highlighted scenes, cast lists and profiles including headshot and links to official program websites are all provided - compared to other TV guides it’s incredibly content-rich, and I think it’s worth taking a look at.

※9 IPG= Interactive Program Guide, Inc. The largest electronic programming guide service provider in Japan, keeping all of the official program information from the Japanese broadcasters all in one place.

Iwata - The first time I ever realized just how much data IPG provided was using Nintendo TVii. Most of the information you find in TV guides comes straight from IPG in Japan, but it turns out up until now I’ve only ever seen a fraction of everything they actually transmit.

Oda - Actually IPG said that we were the first partner to use the full data package.

Kamigawa - I think it’s pretty fun to see just how much information they have, especially for the Golden Time TV shows. Thanks to IPG Nintendo TVii also links with the Japanese talent list provided by VIP Times, meaning you can view cast profiles, photos and times for when those cast members will be appearing in their next shows. Unfortunately talent agency policies restrict the transmission of photos for certain personalities, so there are some that don’t have profiles or images.

Oda - It’s really fun just to be able to take a look at all this different program information and get an overview of the TV industry.

Additionally, the search functionality is incredibly powerful - you can search programs by genre, cast or keywords so it’s incredibly easy to search for any program or cast member.

Iwata - By the way, Nintendo TVii supports CS in addition to terrestrial digital broadcasting, BS - was this planned from the beginning though?

Oda - CS broadcast support was one of the issues we knew we’d have to deal with from the beginning.

In Japan 85% of viewers watch terrestrial digital, and there were plenty of members saying, “BS is one thing, but don’t you think it would be fine if we left out CS?” But lots of people just don’t realize that there is a lot of really appealing content on CS broadcasting, and I felt like it would be quite a waste if people missed out. I felt maybe there’s something we could do with Nintendo TVii so people could enjoy CS programs as well.

Iwata - Including CS means your channel count suddenly increases a lot - did that end up bogging down application speed?

Kamigawa - Once you have a lot of channels to deal with computations and data necessary for transmission with the servers increase, so it was tough dealing with that on the client side in some respects. I think in the end, though, we were able to achieve reasonable performance.

Oda - At one point we tried displaying terrestrial digital, BS and CS all at once, but that was just too much data to display at once, bringing us over our threshold for display performance, so it didn’t work out this time. We thought, “can’t we at least display whatever program is currently being broadcast over all three?”, and that’s how we came up with the “Now Playing” screen. Thanks to that screen you automatically see what’s on BS and CS, meaning maybe you’ll find a new show you never knew about without needing to switch over.

It’s doing it’s job too - there are members of the development staff who have indicated a new interest in CS since they’ve found various programs they thought looked interesting.

Iwata - There may actually be a program you really want to watch, but up until know there was no way of knowing!



Disco StuJuly 28, 2016

TVii needs to be wiped from the Nintendo history books. Let's just all pretend it never happened.

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