Perhaps the biggest surprise from yesterday's Wii U press conference was Nintendo TVii. Nintendo has never aggressively pursued non-gaming pursuits, so offering a video-on-demand service that combines live TV and DVR services all for free seemed a bit... atypical, to say the least. However, after seeing a demonstration of the service, it's easy to see how Nintendo is making TVii possible. It employs surprisingly low-tech, old-school solutions to create something new.
The biggest piece of the puzzle was how TVii would offer live television. Considering the strict restrictions imposed by cable and satellite networks, it would seem strange that Nintendo was getting the red carpet treatment. Indeed, Nintendo bypasses the need to collaborate with these providers because live TV is not an IPTV service.
Instead, TVii is a glorified TV Guide. By connecting to the internet, TVii can access up-to-date programming schedules. When you initially set up TVii, you'll have to input the requisite information to get the correct channel and content listing. For example, if you're using Time Warner Cable in New York City, you simply input that information into the Wii U.
In order to access live TV, the Wii U utilizes one of the oldest tricks in the book: IR. As previously mentioned, the GamePad can function as a universal television remote. Once you identify your television and input that information into the GamePad, TVii will let you simply connect to the correct channel to watch live TV.
Thinking about the technology powering it, there's nothing "revolutionary" about TVii. However, it certainly makes finding movie and television content easier. TVii will become an even more useful service once Nintendo adds more content providers to the mix. (And don't worry, if you want to exclude services you don't subscribe to from your search results, you can.) Given the clever low-tech nature of Nintendo TVii, it's no surprise that Nintendo is able to offer it free with no subscription fees.