[IMGW]http://media.1up.com/media?id=3348104[/IMGW] Hardcore gamers may feel underwhelmed at the announcement of games like Wii Fit... but the mainstream public (at least in Japan) is eating up everything Nintendo's serving.

Interestingly, the phenomenon of Wii love is already starting to have some unusual economic side effects -- the most recent being a precipitous drop in the overall ratings (and revenue) enjoyed by Japanese television stations.

According to a recent article over at the Times, enthusiasm for the Wii is starting to seriously adversely affect the bottom line of Japan's mainstream broadcast networks, especially in the economically-critical prime-time "golden hour".

The article cites a senior executive at Fuji TV (Japan's largest commercial television channel), who accuses the Wii of 'stealing' families away from the normal network fare of Samurai dramas, wacky game shows, variety shows, etc. customarily broadcast during the summer months. As evidence, he points to the fact that last week was the first in nearly two decades where no single show on any commercial station attracted more than a 9 per cent audience share.

"The quality of programming has always been a little cyclical in Japan", comments an executive at rival TV station TBS "but there has never been a period of decline like the one we are seeing now. There are outside factors at work. One is people watching TV on their cell phones where we can't track them, but the really big factor is the time people are spending on the Wii."

Of course this begs the obvious question... what the heck are they playing for hours on end? Everybody votes? The Internet?

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the TV executives, the networks have declared that they have not yet begun to fight against the Wii at a time of truly critical programming. Apparently it's the major sports events -- like the Olympic Games, the World Cup and the Japanese baseball season finale -- which will serve as the true "one must fall" battlegrounds for ratings primacy. Maybe it's best then if they haven't heard yet about Mario and Sonic.

These findings represent just one more piece of sobering evidence for that alienated "core" Nintendo gaming demographic to feel grumpy about -- and further proof that when push comes to shove, the company's current priority is locked onto the wooing of an audience who is fascinated by the siren song of duplo-edged video gaming.

On the other hand, maybe it's encouraging to think that the mainstream audience is just now finally waking up to a truth which hardcore gamers have known about for decades: a good boss fight always whips the pants off rehashed episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond".

Thanks to 1UP.com for sharing the news with us!