Netflix to Hit 90 Million U.S. Subscribers in 10 Years, Analyst Predicts

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

A new research note says that there are still 80 million adults in the country who have the internet but don't subscribe to the streamer.

A couple of surveys released this week paint a mostly rosy future for Netflix, with one analyst predicting the service will grow in the U.S. from 57 million subscribers today to 90 million in 10 years.

For a research note, Todd Juenger of Bernstein commissioned a survey to determine, "Who in the U.S. does not subscribe to Netflix," and the results say that there are still 80 million adults in the country who have the internet but don't subscribe. About 24 million of them are ages 18-49, which is Netflix's most popular demographic.

Among "Netflix-nevers" — those who have never subscribed — 45 percent say their reason is that they are satisfied with the cable or satellite plans. Among the "churners," those who once subscribed but canceled, 10 percent say they did so to save money and 8 percent weren't satisfied with Netflix's content.

Netflix, though, is spending wildly to improve its content, having spent about $6.5 billion last year and spending an expected $8 billion this year, largely to create original programming.

And as for those who, so far, prefer a traditional TV package, they're likely to change their minds when they consider the price gap, considering Netflix charges about $11 per month compared to an average of $90 a month for cable television.

Sports is a consideration, as traditional TV trumps Netflix in a big way, but Juenger opines that "as linear pay-tv bundles become skinnier and more sports/news focused over time, which is our expectation, that plays to Netflix's advantage."

Netflix subscriber acquisition targets are the 24 million adults ages 18-49 who have internet access but don't subscribe to Netflix, as well last the 32 million ages 50-64 and another 24 million age 65 and over, says Juenger.

Throwing a bit of cold water on that bullish analysis was a survey released Wednesday from Parrot Analytics, which says that 49 percent of Americans do not want to pay for any streaming video service.

Parrot, though, says that in Italy, Germany and the U.K., far more are willing to pay not only for a single service, but for multiple services, suggesting Netflix has plenty of room to grow worldwide, even if it might be nearing a saturation point stateside.

At the end of the most recent quarter, Netflix boasted 125 million subscribers worldwide and the company sported a market capitalization of $173 billion, besting Disney's $155 billion and Comcast's $150 billion market caps.