The weekend box office numbers are in, and .xxx didn’t put as many bums on seats as might have been expected.
ICM Registry sold 55,367 new .xxx domain names in its first 24 hours of general availability, giving it a total of almost 159,351 registrations, according to the company.
That’s pretty good going for a TLD which, despite the spin in ICM’s recent TV commercials, is intended for a limited customer base, and which is selling for $80 to $100 a year.
Given its $60 registry fee, ICM will have taken over $3.3 million in revenue yesterday, over $550,000 of which will be given to its sponsoring organization, IFFOR.
However, the 159,351 total includes non-resolving domains, ICM has confirmed.
Due to the unique trademark protection mechanisms put in place for non-porn companies, it’s possible to pay for a .xxx domain that will only ever resolve to a standard registry placeholder.
ICM has previously said that it took almost 80,000 sunrise applications, and that the landrush phase put its total “comfortably over 100,000”.
It did not, however, break out the mix of Sunrise A (resolving) and Sunrise B (non-resolving) domains.
That’s an important distinction, both for ICM’s ongoing revenue and for gauging demand for .xxx among registrants.
Each Sunrise B domain gave ICM a $161 windfall but, unlike every other TLD launched to date, has the sale had no recurring revenue component.
I think it’s possible that 50,000 to 60,000 sunrise domains were non-resolvers, which would give .xxx a total of roughly 100,000 active domains under management after one day of GA.
(My assumptions are that all 80,000 sunrise applications were unique and approved, and that roughly two thirds were for Sunrise B non-resolving domains).
Assuming all the active domains are renewed, it’s a $6 million a year business (or $5 million, if you exclude the mandatory IFFOR donation) for ICM already.
The .xxx zone is already bigger than .travel, .pro, .jobs, .aero, .coop, .museum and .cat. It will likely be bigger than .name, .tel and .asia by the end of the month.
So why suggest that it’s a disappointing result?
First, for a few years ICM was accepting no-cost .xxx “pre-reservations” through its web site, while its gTLD application was in ICANN limbo.
It racked up over 900,000 such reservations for roughly 650,000 unique .xxx domain names before shutting the offer down in July this year.
One might expect that most people interested enough in .xxx to pre-register a domain months or years in advance might also be interested in grabbing that domain during landrush, sunrise or at the moment of GA. That apparently didn’t happen.
Let’s also compare .xxx to the launch of .co by .CO Internet last year.
While .CO did not have anything like the long-term media exposure as .xxx, it did of course have the advantage of offering a completely generic string priced at a third of .xxx.
Within its first 24 hours of general availability, .CO said that it had 233,000 domains under management, about 39,000 of which were landrush or sunrise registrations.
Even at the cheaper registry fee (about $20 a year) .CO still made more money in day one than ICM (although ICM wins hands-down in terms of premium domain sales).
.CO, incidentally, also only had 10 accredited registrars at launch (not counting resellers) compared to ICM’s over 70.
Go Daddy is responsible for roughly half of all new .com registrations, with similar numbers in other TLDs including .co, but it does not appear to be promoting .xxx very heavily.
For the last few days, its homepage has contained only one small below-the-fold reference to .xxx domains. Its TLD drop-down menu has .xxx in tenth place, between .biz and .ca.
Conversely, ICM has been promoting Go Daddy (and DomainMonster) more heavily in its own marketing – notably on gavin.xxx, the site “owned” by its TV commercial character.
So is .xxx on track to meet expectations at this early stage?
ICM CEO Stuart Lawley has previously predicted 300,000 to 500,000 registrations in the first few months, and that’s still an achievable goal given its day-one performance.
.CO Internet, for example, more than doubled its 233,000 first-day take within two months of going into general availability.
The new Russian ccTLD .рф registered 200,000 domains in its first six hours when it launched in November 2010, and hit 800,000 by April this year.
While .xxx clearly hasn’t yet smashed estimates in the same way as its sunrise did, I think early indications are that it’s looking pretty healthy.