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Analyst: Nintendo Likely To Launch On-Demand Wii Video Channel In U.S.

Analyst Colin Sebastian expects Nintendo to experiment with video content on Wii in the U.S. the way it has in Japan -- and says the company's view toward 2010 software suggests it has a new Zelda up its sleeve.
Nintendo's been experimenting with ad-supported streaming video content for Wii in Japan, and one analyst expects the company to try offering such a service to its U.S. userbase. The company's Wii-no-Ma service launched in Japan in May of this year, and is free to Wii users in the region thanks to advertising partnerships with firms like Dentsu. At a Nintendo investor meeting, the company told analysts including Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian that the service has seen notable early adoption. "We expect Nintendo to continue experimenting with content delivery and eventually to launch a service in the U.S., establishing a family-oriented media hub in the living room, and providing a more competitive option to Xbox Live and PlayStation Home," Sebastian says. Although its rivals have been quick to migrate toward connected entertainment and online features, Nintendo has been comparatively more hesitant to divorce itself from traditional business models. Online multiplayer and downloadable content on the Wii remains relatively limited, for example, and the company has not pursued broader media and social offerings the way Microsoft and Sony have on their respective platforms. This new exploration of video delivery, then, remains a relatively small component of Nintendo's strategy, rather than being representative of a drastic shift in focus, suggests Sebastian: "In general, Nintendo views online game content as complementary to packaged-goods," he says. The company's still banking on the continuing strength of its DS platform and a stronger software lineup heading into 2010. The analyst believes that Nintendo's "upbeat" attitude on its first-party software has a specific implication tying in with recent comments from Nintendo producer Eiji Aonuma, as Sebastian says: "We think a new Zelda [to launch in 2010]."

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