Netflix warns of coming U.S. subscriber saturation as growth gets halved

While its global subscriber count increased by 17 million customers in 2015, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) warned investors that its once explosively growing domestic base is reaching a mature phase. 

"Our high penetration in the U.S. seems to be making additions harder than in the past," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told investors Tuesday during the SVOD giant's fourth-quarter earnings report. 

Netflix finished 2014 with just under 40 million total streaming customers in the U.S. It closed out 2015 with around 45 million. Its domestic subscriber base grew around 8 percent last year compared to around 17 percent the year before.

Overall, Netflix reported revenue in the fourth quarter of 2015 coming in slightly under analyst estimates at $1.82 billion, the SVOD provider's subscribership jumped by 5.59 million during the period, bringing its total worldwide subscriber base to 74.76 million.

The subscriber figures were a surprise for investors, who sent Netflix shares up more than 5 percent in after-hours trading immediately following its earnings announcement. The provider had forecast 5.15 million additions.

FierceOnlineVideo has a complete summary of Netflix's fourth-quarter earnings here.