Many companies are currently advertising set-top boxes offering streamed TV on demand to your living room. These companies offer lots of channels and shows – but the chances are you already have them, or a means to view them.
Games consoles have become de facto home theatres, largely thanks to tools like Windows Media Player and TVersity, but more recently the console manufacturers have cottoned on and made various apps available in addition to these.
As you’re probably aware, the new Nintendo Wii U has just been launched, which pushes the already low cost of the Nintendo Wii even further down. The result of this is a games console that can be used as the main interface for your home theatre system that can be picked up for under $50 and has access to a wide selection of TV playback services.
Netflix on Your Wii
We recently published a Netflix “all-in-one” in which we listed the many platforms that the popular TV show and movie streaming subscription service could be viewed on.
Among those platforms is the Nintendo Wii, and setting up and installing Netflix couldn’t be easier. You’ll need to have your console connected to your home network, of course, and the whole process might require a bit of dexterity with the Wiimote unless you own a keyboard.
You’ll then need to head to the Wii Store in order to find and install the Netflix app. If your console hasn’t been hardware modded (chipped), you’ve nothing to lose at this stage, although if you have done this then you need to weigh up just how important having a hacked device is – the Wii Store update that is necessary to install Netflix will undo the effects of the modification.
All you need to do next is browse the store for Netflix – it’s quite popular, so should be pretty high-up on the list – and select it to install. You can choose to download either to the device or to an expansion card; unless you’ve been spoiling yourself with apps and games you should have enough space on the Wii to install Netflix.
After heading to the Netflix website on your PC and signing up you should then be ready with your username and password; a few minutes later you could be watching your favourite TV show or movie!
WiiMC – XBMC on Your Wii!
Installing Netflix on your Wii is only the beginning in your archaic games console’s journey to becoming a fully-fledged home media solution (without HD, of course).
There are plenty other ways for you to enjoy TV and movies thanks to WiiMC, a Homebrew Channel app that can be installed on most models of the Nintendo Wii thanks to a minor software modification.
Our full guide to WiiMC explains just how to do this; I set it up on my own Wii a few months ago in just under 30 minutes. It’s a fiendishly simply operation and one which all Wii users should apply to their console.
Within minutes you can be enjoying videos saved to a USB or Flash device – worth 30 minutes of anyone’s time!
Up until extremely recently, if you wanted to watch YouTube on your Wii it was a case of click and hope in the Internet Channel. While a few homebrew apps seemed promising, nothing ever works like an official YouTube app. But hey, we’re not going to get one of those now that the Wii U is out, right?
Oh, my colleague Justin Pot has just elbowed me in the ribs to point out that yes, against all reasonable judgement and sense, an official YouTube app HAS been released for the Nintendo Wii, quite recently.
The downside, however, is that it is limited at present to the USA, but it looks pretty good from Justin’s guide screenshots, so it’s worth checking out.
Hulu (US Only)
Available as an app on the Wii Store, Hulu is another subscription service that offers great TV to stream to your Nintendo console.
With titles such as Family Guy, Bones and Modern Family, it should come as no surprise to learn that Hulu is hugely popular, and for many years has been the number one choice in the streaming media arsenal of home theatre PC users.
Breaking out from that platform onto consoles puts Hulu up against other services and it handles itself well – but that region specific, US-only aspect is frustrating.
BBC iPlayer (UK Only)
Although the service has “gone international” in the past few months, BBC iPlayer on the Nintendo Wii is limited to British users. The result is an easy to use and well-designed interface to the best of the broadcaster’s previous seven days of output.
One drawback with this, however, is the common “bandwidth exceeded” error, which seems to occur regardless of the bandwidth allocated by your ISP. Rather, this error seems to derive from the number of people watching the same programme, which is why it is a good idea to use the BBC iPlayer app late at night or early in the morning…
Conclusion: Five Ways To Wii-Watch TV!
So, US readers have a choice of YouTube and Hulu, British readers can bring up BBC iPlayer on their TVs via the Nintendo Wii and everyone has the chance to launch good old Netflix. With WiiMC providing support to anyone intending to watch movies stored on Flash media, these are five ways in which Nintendo Wii owners can enjoy TV and movies from the comfort of their living room!