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ICANN predicts shrinkage in new gTLD sector

Kevin Murphy, January 3, 2020, 13:13:24 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN will make less money from new gTLDs in its fiscal 2021 because fewer domains will be registered and renewed, according to its recently published draft budget.
The budget, released the day ICANN broke up for its Christmas holidays, shows that the organization expects to bring in $140.4 million in FY21, up a modest $300,000 on its FY20.
But it’s expecting the amount of money contributed by registries and registrars in the new gTLD sector to decline.
For FY21, it expects new gTLD registry transaction fees — the $0.25 paid to ICANN whenever a domain is registered, renewed or transferred — to be $5.1 million. That’s down from the $5.5 million currently forecast for FY20.
It expects registrar transaction fees for new gTLD domains to dip from $4.6 million to $4.3 million.
But at the same time, ICANN is predicting growth from its legacy gTLD segments, which of course are primarily driven by .com sales. All the other legacy gTLDs of note, even .org and .net, are currently on downward trajectories in terms of volumes.
For FY21, ICANN is forecasting legacy gTLD registry transaction fees to come in at $52.6 million, versus the $50.5 million it expects to see in the current FY20. In percentage terms, it’s about double the growth it’s predicting for the current FY.
Legacy gTLD registrar transaction fees are estimated to grow, however, from $31.2 million to $32.7 million.
In terms of fixed fees — the $25,000 every new gTLD registry has to pay every year regardless of transaction volume — ICANN is also predicting shrinkage.
It reckons it will lose a net seven registries in FY21, dropping from 1,170 to 1,163 by the end of June 2021. These are most likely dot-brand gTLDs that could follow the path of 69 predecessors and flunk out of the program.
ICANN also expects its base of paying registrars to go down by 100 accreditations, with no new registrar applications, causing fees to drop from $10.7 million this year to $9.6 million in FY21.
In short, it’s not a particularly rosy outlook for the gTLD industry, unless you’re Verisign.
ICANN’s financial year runs from July 1 to June 30 this year, and usually the December release of its draft budget includes some mid-year reevaluations of how it sees the current period playing out. But that’s not the case this time.
ICANN appears to be on-budget, suggesting that it’s getting better at modeling the industry the more years of historical transaction data it has access to.
The budget (pdf) is now open for public comment. I spotted a few errors, maybe you can too.

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Comments (6)

  1. Reviewu says:

    Soon we will see more registries merging or holding each others hands in desperation.

  2. Snoopy says:

    The New TLD predictions would be nothing more than wild guess because the main influencer now is sub $1 promotions from spammy tlds. One extension alone, like .top or .icu could decide whether the overall numbers are up or down.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I don’t know for sure how sophisticated ICANN’s modeling is, but I’d be surprised and disappointed if its FY21 estimates do not factor in the loss of a few million .icu names in the back half of calendar 2020.

  3. Ethan says:

    “These are most likely dot-brand gTLDs that could follow the path of 69 predecessors and flunk out of the program.”
    I would not use dot-brand to speculate about the trend of new gTLDs. They are two different categories.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      In terms of fixed fees paid by new gTLD registries to ICANN, which is what we’re talking about here, there’s no difference at all.

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