Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


September 13, 2012

Nintendo Co. on Thursday said its Wii U videogame machine-its first new home console in six years-will go on sale in the U.S. Nov. 18, starting $300, and will include features aimed at making the device into a broader entertainment hub for TV viewing.

A successful launch of the Wii U is critical for the Japanese company, which is coming off its first annual loss in more than three decades. Nintendo's business model is facing a threat from a technological shift enabling consumers to play games inexpensively on smartphones, tablet computers and other Web-connected electronic devices. The Wii U, unlike a traditional videogame controller consisting of joysticks and buttons, employs a tabletlike device with a six-inch touch-screen display to control the game action. As part of its broader entertainment strategy, Nintendo aims to use the controller, known as the GamePad, as a next-generation remote control that can navigate through online video and traditional TV options in one place while connecting users to social media.

The new feature, dubbed Nintendo TVii, will integrate Internet video options from Netflix Inc., Inc. and Hulu Plus, with live TV programs available through set-top boxes from pay-TV providers. The Wii U also can interact with TiVo Inc.'s popular digital television recorder. "What Nintendo TVii does is consolidate individual consumer TV choices and deliver it back in a compelling, integrated way," Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo's North American operations, said in an interview. The service will be available at first in the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Fils-Aime said the company is exploring further expansion.

The new feature aims to resolve a major shortcoming with the Wii, which Nintendo introduced in 2006. Although Nintendo has sold nearly 100 million Wiis, more than its rivals, the company has failed to take a leading role in the living room beyond videogames. In contrast, Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 have been more effective in becoming a hub for video and music, for years offering features that the Wii U is just now bringing to market for Nintendo. The Japanese videogame company said the basic Wii U, which comes with eight gigabytes of memory, will sell for $300 when it launches in the U.S. on Nov. 18. A premium model with four-times more memory capacity will cost $350. The device will go on sale in Japan on Dec. 8, starting at 25,000 yen ($321).

The Wii U's pricing has been closely watched amid concerns that the components used to manufacture the machine could push costs above what mainstream consumers are willing to pay. Analysts had estimated that Nintendo would set the price of the Wii U between $250 and $300 in the U.S. and between 25,000 Yen to 30,000 Yen in the Japanese market. Macquarie Securities analyst David Gibson said the Wii U's price is too high, especially with Sony and Microsoft expected to cut Xbox 360 and PS3 prices further. An Xbox 360 with four gigabytes of storage now costs $200, while Sony sells a 160-gigabyte PS3 system for $250. When Nintendo's 3DS hand-held game machine launched last year, the reception was only lukewarm as consumer response to the $249 price and the new glasses-free 3-D technology failed to generate a buzz. To try to get the device back on track, Nintendo slashed the price of the 3DS-incurring a loss on every machine it sold until last month.

Nintendo said it will make the "New Super Mario Bros. U" videogame available at the launch of the Wii U. It will be the first time in 16 years for Nintendo to launch a Super Mario game, the company's flagship game franchise, at the same time as the debut of a new game machine. "Through the Wii U, we hope to advance the expansion of the gaming population-something we achieved with the original Wii-and advance it even further," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said in an online video announcing the new price.

Nintendo declined to say which games, aside from "Super Mario" and "Nintendo Land," will be available for sale by the console's North American launch, though Mr. Fils-Aime promised more than 50 titles before the end of March. The company showcased many of those titles Thursday, including Activision Blizzard Inc.'s "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," a modern combat game already available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Eric Hirshberg, head Activision Blizzard's Activision publishing arm, called the new Nintendo system "much more robust and capable for high-end, HD graphics" than previous Nintendo devices, opening the platform up to hardcore gamers. Most games on the Wii and 3DS have catered to family audiences because of hardware limitations that prevented more mature games from rendering realistic images.

The bid for serious gamers mirrors what Microsoft and Sony have done to widen their systems' appeal among families, Mr. Hirshberg noted. Those companies marketed first to hardcore gamers before introducing add-ons-like Xbox Kinect-that took aim at family users. While the machine comes with one GamePad controller, an additional controller can be purchased. Nintendo has said it is designing the games so most can be played with a single GamePad and controllers from the existing Wii console, so that consumers don't need to buy additional equipment. Wall Street Journal

Both sides in the presidential race are singing songs of Pennsylvania; but one side seems a tad off-key. The state GOP Wednesday morning issued a statement quoting party chairman Rob Gleason as (shockingly) agreeing with Gov. Corbett that Pennsylvania's in play. "Governor Corbett is absolutely correct regarding Pennsylvania's continued competitiveness in the 2012 Presidential election. Like the Governor, I speak with voters and volunteers daily and Mitt Romney continues to have tremendous support on the grassroots level," Gleason said. He added that Corbett "knows Pennsylvania politics and he knows that Mitt Romney is poised to deliver a big upset in the Keystone State."

Support for this enthusiasm is based on a report in the Allentown Call that Corbett, while in Lebanon County, said that in his "travels across the state, I think there's a great deal of support for Gov. Romney." Given that the guv's "travels across the state" are often restricted to GOP areas and kayak trips, I don't doubt his claim. But is seems a stretch to think he or Gleason talk with many "voters and volunteers" who aren't Romney supporters. A few hours after Gleason's statement, state Democrats issued a list of state and national headlines noting that Romney-supporting conservative groups pulled TV ads out of the state and that Romney's campaign is focused on 8 key states, not including Pennsylvania.

Then the Romney camp then issued a statement announcing its "Pennsylvania Campaign Leadership" team led by Corbett, Sen. Toomey, Gleason, GOP congressmen and a bunch of other Republican officeholders. Evidence, I suppose, the GOP is getting serious here. But wait. Wednesday night state Democratic chairman Jim Burn issued a statement saying Pennsylvanians "are not buying the failed policies of the past" that Romney's selling. This is based, I imagine, on his travels across the state speaking with voters and volunteers.

Well, here's what we know today. The average of the most recent independent in-state polling as compiled by the Website has Obama up a comfortable 7.7 percent, and that's before the Democratic convention which gave Obama a 4- to 6- point bump in major national polls. Also, Pennsylvania hasn't voted for a GOP presidential candidate since 1988. Granted, things happen and Mitt's got money; but happy tunes about PA going Romney just sound a little flat.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is hitting his Republican opponent, former coal-company owner Tom Smith, with a new campaign commercial designed to shake up older voters. The ad shows video of Smith bragging about starting a tea-party group in Armstrong County, where he lives. "But is Tom Smith your cup of tea?" a narrator asks. "He wants to privatize Social Security and end Medicare as we know it, making seniors pay $6,000 more, all while giving even more tax breaks to the wealthy." Jim Conroy, Smith's campaign manager, called those claims "right out of the Democratic playbook, and inaccurate."

Smith, in a plan that he released last week, favors letting younger workers invest some of their Social Security contributions in personal investment accounts. His plan on Medicare is similar to the budget proposal pushed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, now the Republican nominee for vice president. Smith wants future Medicare users to get a government subsidy to shop for their own health care, paying their own money if it doesn't cover costs.

Casey seems concerned that Smith, who spent $5 million of his own money to win the primary election and gave his campaign an additional $1.5 million since then, shows no signs of closing his wallet. He is using the new ad to seek campaign contributions. Federal Communications Commission records show that Casey is spending $241,779 to run the ads until Tuesday on five television stations in Pittsburgh, four in Harrisburg and one in Lancaster. Armstrong County is in the Pittsburgh television market. Smith last month ran broadcast ads in Philadelphia, hitting Casey for his "failed record" on unemployment and the economy. Philadelphia Daily News

Walt Disney Co.'s chief financial officer says the company's TV advertising revenue did not rebound as expected after last month's conclusion of the hugely popular London Olympics that were aired on rival NBC. Jay Rasulo also told an investors conference that ABC owner Disney also expects to book a $50 million charge for discontinuing a movie that was in the works. Associated Press