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Nintendo turns broadcaster: Original shows coming to Wii

Nintendo is planning to launch a free, on-demand television channel in Japan, delivered via its Wii console. It'll feature original and exclusive programming, and will hopefully hit the UK later this year

With the hottest and most affordable video games console on the market today still doing business like economists in a recession, Nintendo is in the perfect position to exploit its Wii system beyond the realm of just gaming. And, as of spring this year, it will do so, by launching a full-blown television channel, delivered to the Wii over the Internet.

Called Wiinoma, The Times reports that Nintendo is planning to use the on-demand channel to deliver mostly free and original programming, produced exclusively for the service. Brain-training quizzes, original cartoons, educational shows, even cookery and lifestyle programming, are all reported to be on the agenda.

At the moment, the Wii offers a snack, not a feast, of its own on-demand content, such as game info, weather and news. But the new channel would offer full shows, rather than clips and trailers, adding to the roster of content available to the Wii from the BBC's iPlayer service.

However, while the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 both have internal hard disks to store downloaded content, the Wii does not -- content would probably have to be streamed to the console. And, again like many traditional broadcasters, shows would mostly be supported by advertising.

But so far we're talking about a service only available to the Japanese. Presumably dependent on its success there, the channel may be offered to other parts of the world by the end of the year.

That raises a host of other issues though, namely having to produce entirely new content in English and other European languages, and securing advertisers in each region. Though, let's be brutally honest here, it'd be far more hilarious just to dub the Japanese language in English and leave the content as it is.

Expect to see this in Japan around spring of this year, and here in Britain -- maybe -- around the time shops start playing Wombling Merry Christmas again.