Netflix is expected to pass 100 million paid subscribers worldwide in the middle of 2017. Netflix will have 128 million subscribers by 2022, according to a forecast by Digital TV Research. That number is around 20 million less than previously predicted by other analysts and suggests the rate of growth will slow, both in the United States and internationally.
Digital TV Research expects that Netflix will add another 28 million subscribers, effectively 28% growth, over five years, which is substantial but may disappoint some investors.
The forecast predicts that North America and Western Europe will provide 72% of the total subscriber base in 2022, down from 81% in 2016.
The top five countries will account for two-thirds of Netflix subscribers by 2022, with the United States providing 44%.
That suggests an increase in subscribers in the United States of about 6 million to around 56 million, which is still short of the stated goal of between 60 and 90 million. The forecast is for 63 million in North America in 2022.
Western Europe will account for 29 million Netflix subscribers in 2022, which is about 10 million more than at the end of 2016.
By 2022, 17 countries will have more than a million Netflix subscribers, up from 10 countries at end of 2016.
The entire Asia Pacific region will account for 10 million subscribers, which is triple the number in 2016 but still suggests relatively modest market penetration.
Netflix opened up to 130 more countries in January 2016. However, the forecast suggests that these countries will only account for 14 million subscribers by 2022, or around 11% of the total.
The notable exception is China, where Netflix has been unable to launch. It now has a licensing arrangement with popular video streaming platform iQIYI, a subsidiary of Baidu, the Chinese equivalent to Google.
Netflix could also fall foul of Russian legislation, due to be introduced in July, which would restrict foreign ownership of digital platforms.
The Digital TV Research forecast is less optimistic than a previous prediction from Ovum, which proposed that Netflix would have a total of over 150 million subscribers in 2022, of which around 75 million would be in the United States.
That is a difference in forecasts of over 20 million subscribers over the same five-year period.
Interestingly, the Ovum forecast already looks ambitious, suggesting Netflix will reach 60 million subscribers in the United States in 2017. The Netflix internal forecast is that it will have 50 million paid subscribers in the United States in mid 2017, compared to 46 million in mid 2016. It expects to pass the 100 million mark worldwide in the middle of 2017.
While it may be more difficult to predict the level of international adoption, the figures already show that growth is slowing in the United States. This is not surprising, as it inevitably becomes more difficult to retain subscribers and attract new ones.
Although 50 million paid subscribers in the United States is undoubtedly impressive, it still represents only around half the number of households in the country that subscribe to television services. Estimates vary, but there are around a billion television subscribers worldwide, so further growth for Netflix could depend on more partnerships with pay-television providers.
The Netflix Forecasts report is published by Digital TV Research and provides detailed forecasts for 138 countries.