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The Domain Industry Keeps on Growing and Changing

It has become very clear once again: the domain industry won’t stop. The scenario we know today is constantly changing, and our industry adapts to the changes taking place in society and the economy.

Thanks to its versatility, the domain industry continues to amaze with some big changes year after year. This sector has its own peculiarities, rules, and opportunities for all stakeholders involved. While there are strong foundations, the ecosystem is constantly evolving, with the large numbers of new gTLDs introduced being just one example of this.

InterNetX and Sedo, two leading companies in their respective fields, took a closer look at the state of the domain industry in 2021 and published their results in the latest edition of the Global Domain Report 2021. In about 70+ pages, you get a clear depiction with analyzes, data, developments, and statements from the leading voices /experts in the industry. In this article, we took a closer look at the main data with particular reference to the European market.

2020 was a year of change for everyone. The pandemic has led to restrictions, lockdowns, and major inconveniences with serious implications from private life to business. COVID-19 changed everyday life by presenting new challenges for the domain industry, which has reacted accordingly. ICANN for example has launched various initiatives, e.g. to keep DNS secure and to support registrants in the COVID-19 crisis.

As stated by InterNetX CEO Thomas Mörz: “The domain sector survived 2020 largely unscathed. All trends show growing numbers, despite contrasting feelings around the pandemic. We are seeing a worldwide acceleration of digitization. It has become clear once again that domains are the starting point for every successful online business.”

Ron Jackson, the editor of DNJournal, describes 2020 as a roller coaster ride: “When the pandemic hit us in the first quarter, sales slowed down. People were worried that the situation could worsen. The turning point was understanding that a strong web presence is a must to do business in a pandemic situation.”

The Global Domain Report 2021 by InterNetX and Sedo

The number of domain name registrations continues to grow. Several reasons have led to positive numbers in the domain sector this year as well:

  1. The push towards digitalization.
  2. The specialization of certain niche industries and services.
  3. The emergence of new markets around the world.

Still, creating statistics on the most registered TLDs is not a simple task. This is mainly due to the sources, which often present very different data. Furthermore, while there are registrars that make their data publicly available, others do not. All in all, we can say without any doubt, the demand is and remains high. At the same time, the introduction of new extensions continues to offer society new TLDs that better represent it. Let’s take a closer look at some domain industry highlights from the Global Domain Report by InterNetX and Sedo.

The 10 most popular TLDs

It is certainly not a surprise: .com remains the most registered domain. The TLD .tk and .cn follow on an equal footing. Among the ccTLD, the German domain extension .de has a lead that has become too big for those behind to be easily overcome, namely .uk, .nl, .ru, and .br. The two “historical” TLDs .net and .org are among the most registered domains, as well.

The 10 most popular TLDs

In general, .cn and .nl show a strong growth compared to .net, .tk, and .uk with negative figures.

The most registered ccTLDs in 2020
Top 5 + 1 ccTLDs in M

Looking at the data in the report, these are significant differences visible at first glance. For example, the ccTLDs .tk, .ga, .cf, .ml, and .gq managed by freenom are generally free to register with fees only to ensure the full ownership of the domain.

This can only benefit registrations. Thus it is explained now, for example, why .tk the ccTLD for the Tokelau territory, with a population of approximately 1,500 people, has come out on top of the rankings.

Europeans love ccTLDs

In terms of global market share, 34% of the total is represented by ccTLDs, while the remaining 56% is in the hands of gTLDs.

Top 10 Domains in Europe

If we consider only the European continent, however, the situation is slightly different. According to the Global Domain Report taking CENTR as a source, the market share of ccTLDs among European countries amounts to 61%. A long-standing trend based on historical-cultural reasons, which leads the European market to prefer national TLDs to locate their presence on the internet.

Domain-population ratio

The Global Domain Report by InterNetX and Sedo presents an interesting comparison by relating the domains registered in a given country with the respective number of inhabitants. This data allows us to draw further conclusions on the global domain market.

While it is not surprising that the most populated countries like China or the United States also have a large number of registered domains, very small countries like Panama or the Cayman Islands benefit from their status as a popular offshore destination. The case of .tk reaching the Top10 is one clear example.

Domain-inhabitant ratio
There are gTLDs with strong potential besides .com

The TLD .com leads all rankings with a very wide gap from other domains. A success story that has been going on since 1985. Of course, there are many other gTLDs with strong potential. There are currently 1,590 TLDs in the IANA root zone database and 1,244 are the so-called gTLDs.

Even though new domain extensions represent only a small fraction of registered gTLDs so far, the number of registrations is constantly growing, as are the opportunities associated with them. Some TLDs experienced higher growth with peaks over 300%, such as .site, .icu, or .xyz.

Growth >100%
More than 1,000 new gTLDs offer a more diversified internet
Top 5 new gTLDs

New top-level domains have been introduced in recent years mainly because it has become increasingly difficult to find short, concise domains that are still available. The new gTLDs are, therefore, a “remedy” to make the internet grow. It could also be said that they have “democratized” the industry with over 1,000 additional extensions, thus widening the choice by bringing diversity within the internet community. Also, registrations of new gTLDs continue to grow in 2020.

Some of the main ones include: .xyz, .icu but also .online, .top, .site and .club—the latter now in the limelight and steadily growing. When it comes to the new top-level domains, Donuts Inc. today manages the largest and most relevant portfolio in the world, offering new extensions to enhance and manage your online identity.

The most successful geoTLDs

Let’s not forget these gTLDs, which represent a region, a community, or even a continent such as .asia, the most registered geoTLD, followed by .cat, for the autonomous region of Catalonia and .pyc for the ethnic community of Russian-speaking people in Kiev Rús.

Registered geoTLDs

Considering the vast market potential of .asia and .africa, thanks to the large population in the respective regions, they have not yet reached their full potential.

2021 forecast for the domain industry

The year 2020 was an unpredictable one with constant changes. The hope is that we can slowly return to a certain degree of normality. The domain industry certainly reflects the changes taking place in society and the economy, but it can benefit from some stability. The fast-growing digitization with an increased focus on e-commerce and digital security can only have a positive effect on the domain industry.

Get your copy of the Global Domain Report 2021 by InterNetX and Sedo.

By Simone Catania, Global Content & Communications Manager at InterNetX

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New gTLDs are DYING! John Poole  –  Apr 16, 2021 5:46 PM

You state: “Even though new domain extensions represent only a small fraction of registered gTLDs so far, the number of registrations is constantly growing”—that’s a FALSE statement and you should know better than to try to pass off this kind of hype and hucksterism in 2021!—according to https://ntldstats.com/ total new gTLD registrations have declined from a high of 35.6 million in September 2020 to only 25.5 million as of April 15, 2021. At namestat.org the numbers for total new gTLDs’ registrations are even WORSE (less than 22.6 million total new gTLDs’ registrations). The new gTLDs are plagued with usability issues (“fail to work as expected on the internet” and “break stuff”), price-gouging, and domain abuse. Thanks to the incompetent, corrupt & captured ICANN, and the new gTLDs domain industry, the global internet community now has a BIG MESS in its global DNS.

Data from 2020 Simone Catania  –  Apr 19, 2021 11:14 AM

Hello John, Thank you for pointing out the decrease of new gTLDs registrations in the past months. Please note that the report reviews the global domain industry in 2020 and the data reflects this accordingly. 2020 saw indeed a record high in new gTLD registrations with a peak in July-August. Should the situation have changed in the meantime, InterNetX and Sedo will make sure to reflect this accordingly in their next report.

New gTLDS signficant decline since Sep 27, 2020 John Poole  –  Apr 19, 2021 5:56 PM

As I noted in my first comment above, new gTLDs started a significant decline starting September 27, 2020, which continued throughout the rest of 2020 and into 2021. Your report FAILED to accurately report the 2020 decline in new gTLDs' registrations and your report FALSELY stated: "Even though new domain extensions represent only a small fraction of registered gTLDs so far, the number of registrations is constantly growing."

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