YouTube On The Wii -- Another Step Toward The New World Of TV

Good news: If you're hoping to show your grandma that awesome cat video this holiday season, you probably won't have to huddle around a computer or tablet screen. As yet another confirmation of the ongoing trend merging online video and gaming, Google introduced a YouTube app for the Nintendo Wii earlier this month. The combination is helping to change the way we watch TV. 

Wii and Wii U owners can get the app through the Wii Marketplace. Its layout is simple enough, with recommended channels and favorited ones already on display after you log in. The Wii app looks nothing like the YouTube website, which is a good thing. Despite the tediousness of typing with the traditional Wii console, searching is quick. And things are even better on the Wii U. The new device's second screen  puts all of the description and playback controls in the handset, keeping the main screen clear of distraction. After the video you've just watched is done the next one in that channel's line up automatically starts. 

Not the First TV/Gaming Mashup

This isn't the first such move for Google or Nintendo.  In early November, Google released its own YouTube-centric version of Apple's Airplay, which lets you play videos from your Android tablet on TVs equipped Google TV. In fact, YouTube is available on over 400 million devices, including set-top streaming devices like Boxee, SmartTVs and other gaming consoles. As for Nintendo, Netflix and Hulu have been available on the Wii console for about two years.

So what happened to bring the two together now? 

For one thing, the release of the Wii U is refocusing attention on the Wii platform. And just like the other game console makers, Nintendo is desperate to turn its device into the main entertainment system for the living room. Most homes already have a gaming console holding a spot on their entertainment center. So if you wanted to watch a YouTube video while hanging out at home one night, you don't have to get a new device, just use what you've already got. For Google, the goal is simple, it wants to put YouTube everywhere it can.

TV Change Is Already Here

The way we watch TV is changing, as streaming over the Internet slowly but surely replaces cable TV subscriptions. What hasn't changed much is where we watch. Internet TV viewing may have started in our home offices on our computers but it has migrated in two directions, to mobile devices anywhere and to big screens in the living room.

Matt Darby, product manager at YouTube, said platforms like the Wii put YouTube in a space where people spend a lot of time with family and friends. "Bringing YouTube into the living room gives people a limitless selection of content to watch, alongside traditional broadcast TV," he said. The TV in the living room isn't going away, but more and more people don't want to limit its use to just traditional television fare. Google and Nintendo - along with Apple, Microsoft, Sony and many others want to be the ones to make that possible.

(For more on the convergence of TV and game consoles, see Brian Proffitt's The End Of Cable TV? How Everyone Will Watch Television In The Future.)

Image courtesy of the YouTube blog.