In cooperation with Japans biggest advertising company Dentsu, Nintendo just released a new revolutionary TV service for their game console Wii.
The wide spread of internet and mobile phone culture led to a big lifestyle change in Japan. Traditionally the family life was centered in the ‘お茶の間’ (Ocha-no-Ma), the Japanese-style living room (see picture above). In the second half of the 20th century the TV was placed in the ‘Ocha-no-Ma’ and the family gathered in front of the screen or had TV dinners on weekends. With the beginning of the 20th century Japan entered an area of singularisation and individualization. Despite the lack of space in Japanese houses, it got common that most family members have their own room – a place to be alone. From that time on watching TV was no longer a central part of family life; family members watched their own TV shows on their own TVs or mobile phones. The family TV sessions in the ‘Ocha-no-Ma’ belonged to the past.
Bring the family back together in the living room
is Nintendo’s approach for the future. As Nintendo researchers found out 87% of Wii users use it on the biggest screen in the house, which is still the one in the living room. With the introduction of new game types like Wii fit and Wii sports, as much as the Nintendo DS, Nintento could expand the gaming population worldwide. Both devices are used by both sex and by a wide range of age groups. In average more family members use the the same Wii as other consoles are shared. Now Nintendo tries to widen up the variety of things you can do with a single gaming device by establishing one machine that satisfies all kinds of users in all posible ways.
During the development of the ‘TV-no-Tomo‘ channel, a TV program listing service for the wii console, Nintendo worked together with ‘Interactive Program Guide Inc.‘, a subsidiary of Dentsu. The success of this cooperation led to the development of Nintendo’s new TV service ‘Wiiの間‘ (‘Wii-no-Ma’).
As consoles are already connected to the internet, video streaming possibilities and online payment systems have been established through Nintendo’s videogame businesses, ‘Wii-no-Ma’ is, in a broader sense, a ‘video broadcasting service’ which utilizes advertising businesses.
In the beginning there will be only original video content, but already five ‘key’ TV stations in Tokyo have agreed to provide ‘Wii-no-Ma’ with some of their programs. One of the great features of this new service is that videos can be watched regardless of timing and times. While existing services for PCs or cell phones are mainly focused on personal use, ‘Wii-no-Ma’ will specialize on programs and services for groups of people that watch together and communicate with each other.
Up to eight family members can register at one ‘Wii-no-Ma’, build each others’ avatars and interact with each other like in online roll play games. Recommendations of programs can be send to other family members and friends; messages can be send and received in pop-up menus. Additionally the so called ‘Concierge Mii’, a Mii-Avatar of a Japanese celebrity (the avatar of famous Actor Saburo Tokito is preinstalled) appears on screen and introduces shows fitting to the user’s or group’s profile. Every time users finish watching, they are asked to evaluate the program in order to optimize content for specific gender and age groups. The results will be sent as a feedback to the developers of the program and to the sponsors of advertisements.
New advertising system
‘Wii no ma’ is free-of-charge but has an implemented advertisement system. In order not to bother watchers with colorful, blinking pop-up ads like on PC or mobile sites Nintendo created a new form of advertisement. No advertisement is shown on the screen unless the user actively chooses so. After watching video programs on ‘Wii-no-Ma’, users are guided to ‘会社の間’ (‘Kaisha no Ma’ – ‘The Companies’ Room’) an advertising platform from sponsor companies. There are twelve screens in ‘Kaisha no ma’, Each of them can be utilized by companies to communicate with the customers in ways like casting videos, asking questionnaires, giving out vouchers or delivering free samples to the household.
Advertisement doesn’t have any limitation in length, like 15 or 30 seconds on other platforms. As the user actively chooses to watch the ad content of his interest, the companies can communicate deeply and personally with users about their products or services.’Kaisha-no-Ma’ has been designed as a stage of direct communication between customers and companies and to verify hypothesis. Utilizing this system, Nintendo is anticipating an unprecedented form of advertisement: from ‘what users avoid to watch’ to ‘what users are eager to watch’. Avertising will get a form of entertainment. Benefit will be on both sides: the users who get personalized programs and advertising, and the sponsors who can promote and adjust their products to the real needs of their customers.
Mobalized ‘wii no ma’
Owners of Nintendo DSi can transfer their favorite programs directly to their DSi and watch the content on the go.
The exclusive software called ‘どこでもwiiの間’(‘Dokodemo-Wii-no-Ma’ – lit. ‘Everywhere Wii-no-Ma’) can be downloaded via the internet at Nintendo DSi Shop free of charge. Videos can be stored on the built-in memory of the DSi or on a SD Memory Card. Video vouchers from sponsores can be downloaded to the DSi to show them at stores and receive a variety of special services or discounts.
A console which puts smiles on everyone’s faces
With this approach Nintendo aims to go forward steadily in a long term and change the relationship between family, TV and internet. The new ‘Wii-no-ma’ is definately a service will spread in Japan as it’s interface is very Japanese, doesn’t bring extra costs for wii users and increases the features of the gaming console. ‘Wii-no-Ma’ is currently only available in Japan, but overseas deployment is under planning in the near future. All the services are free of charge at the beginning, special content will be charged in the future.
The official introduction from of ‘Wii-no-Ma’ by Dr. Iwata can be seen here (Japanese).
Official ‘Wii-no-Ma’ TV commercial follows: