While it's been seen on your new WiiU since right around launch day, TVii simply didn't work. Nintendo stated that the service would be available on day one but that didn't work out. Apparently, things are starting to come together for the service and you now have a few options when you launch the dashboard icon.
One of the options you won't find available yet is DVR. Nintendo says this functionality is coming though what form it will take isn't apparent to me yet. It doesn't look as though the WiiU itself will become your DVR. More that much like the Logitech Revue Google TV device, the WiiU will become a pass-through device that will allow you to view live and recorded programing on another DVR while using your WiiU touchscreen. If that's the case, one has to wonder what Nintendo brings to the table that Google couldn't.
For the most part, Google TV has been a complete flop. Promising to do for TV what Google did for the internet with search, it fell short in almost every way. While the interface wasn't terrible, having to use a keyboard remote control, even one that could be programmed to control all of your other equipment, wasn't something most people wanted to do.
As well, once studios began blocking content on their websites from Google TV, it became much more limited than the company expected. While the thought of unified search across live TV, DVR content and streaming content seemed like something we'd all want, it just didn't work out for Google.
This being the case, what can Nintendo do to make people want to use this service? They're not the first gaming company that has tried to become a media hub. Both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 offer a lot of content. They don't tap into your cable or satellite DVR but with access to most of the major streaming services, they're definitely front and center for many people when it comes to consuming content.
While still not offering the DVR controlling functionality as of this writing, it does look like Nintendo might be bringing in some new ideas that could help make things easier for TV viewers. User lists, the ability to use the WiiU touchscreen remote and other features shown in the launch video promise a lot of functionality. It will soon be time to see if Nintendo can deliver.
I'm very curious to see how TVii does with consumers. While I'm sure there will be many new WiiUs under Christmas trees this year, whether or not people will use the service remains to be seen. If they do, then Nintendo obviously has some magic that Google can't get their hands on. If not however, is it because of a bad implementation or do people simply not want any sort of pass-through device connected to their TV? Does it add a new level of complication to watching television or are we so used to having separate devices that connecting two of them together seems out of the ordinary?
The Roku line of streaming devices have done exceptionally well. The company is successful and continues to add channels and content at a regular pace. If consumers are willing to purchase a separate device for viewing streaming content, why wouldn't they want it integrated with what they currently use? Only time will tell if Nintendo has found the secret sauce that makes people want to use a gaming device for their entire entertainment lineup but hopefully we won't have to wait too long.