LOS ANGELES — Nintendo has switched on a television service that transforms the tabletlike controller for its new Wii U game console into a remote that changes the channel on your TV and puts programs from the Internet just a few finger taps away.
The TVii service debuted Thursday in the U.S. and Canada, a delay from previous plans to have the service available when the game console went on sale in North America on Nov. 18. The TVii service launched in Japan on Dec. 8.
The aim of TVii is to bring order to the hundreds of channels on regular TV and the thousands of shows and movies available through apps from Netflix, Amazon.com., Hulu Plus and Google's YouTube.
It's the first time a video game console maker has integrated live TV controls in a device and could be the extra incentive needed for on-the-fence shoppers ahead of Christmas.
Nintendo's Wii U console has a unique controller — the GamePad — which is covered with joysticks and buttons and boasts a front-facing camera and 6.2-inch touch screen. The GamePad also houses an infrared emitter that talks directly to your TV or set-top box. About 425,000 Wii U units were sold in the first seven days on sale.