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Nintendo turns on TVii for Wii U

The device will take advantage of the holiday shopping season, according to Reggie Fils-Aime.

Nintendo's TVii on the GamePad.
Nintendo's TVii on the GamePad.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo has taken the wraps off a new entertainment experience for its Wii U.

The company's COO, Reggie Fils-Aime, today announced a new initiative known as Nintendo TVii that's designed to help users find and watch television shows, movies, and sports broadcasts. The offering comes with Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video support. It also integrates with TiVo DVRs. Upon clicking a channel listing on the Wii U GamePad controller, users can also watch it directly through their televisions.

Nintendo TVii is designed to offer a dual-screen entertainment experience with the GamePad and components connected to the television. According to Nintendo's Zack Fountain, the service will help users find what's on television or available to stream, and then enhance that "experience" by allowing them to share some insight about what they're watching through Twitter or other services, all from the GamePad.

The GamePad acts as the center of the entire Nintendo TVii featureset. Users can choose a show, decide to favorite it, record it on the TiVo, share the listing with friends, and others. The movie listings can also be skimmed, and allow users to see reviews, check out IMDb listings, and watch a trailer directly on the GamePad.

When it comes to sports, users can watch the game on their television, but see stats, key events in the title, and the current play status right on their GamePad.

A look at the movies in Nintendo TVii.
A look at the movies in Nintendo TVii. Sarah Tew/CNET

To enhance controls, Nintendo has added a remote to the GamePad, allowing users to scroll through channels, type in channel numbers, and execute other functions.

TVii comes free with the Wii U (subscriptions to other services are required), but Nintendo was unclear about when the service would go into operation. It is rolling out initially across the U.S. and Canada, and could be brought to other countries at a later time.

Nintendo will launch the Wii U on November 18 in the U.S. The console will come in two versions. A basic set will be offered, featuring the Wii U console with 8GB of memory, the Wii U Gamepad, an HDMI cable, and sensor bar. A deluxe set will get all of the same features, and adds a charging pad, stands for the controller, additional memory of 32GB, and Nintendo Land.

The Basic set will cost customers $299.99, while the Deluxe set will set customers back $349.99.

Now playing: Watch this: What you need to know about the Nintendo Wii U

Looking for Wii remotes? According to Fils-Aime, the console will work with those customers are already using on the Wii. That's probably good news for current Wii owners. According to Fils-Aime, Nintendo has sold over 100 million Wii remotes and 65 million nunchuks. Those who want Wii U-branded remotes and nunchuks will be able to buy them in the next few weeks, Fils-Aime says.

Inevitably, gamers want to know about the games. And Nintendo certainly didn't waste any time showing off a few Wii U titles, including Metroid Blast, allowing for cooperative gameplay across the console and GamePad. The company also showed off the New Super Mario Bros. U it played at E3. The new game play doesn't look all that different, but Nintendo made clear that it will come with minigames with objections and other modes that might appeal to party gamers.

Major game publisher Activision will also be making a showing on the Wii U. Activision Publishing chief Eric Hirshberg said that his company will be offering up a host of Wii U titles in the Wii U launch window. Chief among them is Call of Duty Black Ops 2, the wildly anticipated first-person shooter launching later this year. At the event, Activision showed off multiplayer in the title, allowing one user to play on the television and the other on the GamePad.

So what's coming to the Wii U at launch? Oddly, Nintendo's Fils-Aime said it's too early to say, but the company expects to have 50 titles available for the console between November 18 and the end of March 2013.

This story has been updated throughout the morning.