Tablets changing video habits, playing into Amazon’s strategy

It might seem like the market for television shows and movies has already been turned upside down, with many of us circumventing traditional channels in favor of online video sites, Internet-based services and other alternatives to old-fashioned cable.

But the shakeup has only just begun, according to new market research. And the trends appear to be good news for Amazon.com — assuming the rumors are true about the Seattle company preparing to release its own tablet.

More than 200 million of us will be using tablets and/or smartphones in the U.S. in four years, says the report from In-Stat this morning. That’s 65 percent of the population. The market research firm says the trend “will have a huge impact on how video entertainment is acquired and consumed” – predicting that 86 percent of people who own the devices will use them to watch video.

Amazon has been trying to make its mark in online video for years, most recently by offering a substantial slice of its Amazon Instant Video on-demand catalog at no extra charge to its Amazon Prime subscribers. As recently as last month, Netflix was saying it hadn’t noticed any impact on its streaming video business from Amazon’s initiative.

But an Amazon tablet, with Amazon’s video service built into the experience, could be a game-changer.

Another wild card in the market right now is Hulu, the popular television and movie service, which is currently accepting acquisition bids from a variety of potential suitors. Amazon.com, as we noted yesterday, is reportedly among them, along with Google, Yahoo and DirecTV.

Netflix has said it’s not interested in Hulu.

Previously on GeekWire: Jeff Bezos explains why Amazon is so big on tablets