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New gTLDs growing faster than .com, latest Verisign data shows

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2015, 12:01:57 (UTC), Domain Registries

New gTLDs grew faster than .com in the last 12 months.
That seems to be one of the conclusions that can be drawn from Verisign’s Q2 Domain Name Industry Brief, which was published (pdf) yesterday, if you dig into the numbers a little.
The headline number is that the number of all domains across all TLDs was 296 million, up sequentially by 2.2 million domains. That’s annual growth of 16.4 million domains, Verisign said.
I thought it might be interesting to see where that growth came from, so I plugged the numbers from Verisign’s last five DNIB reports into a spreadsheet, reproduced in this table.
[table id=35 /]
From these numbers, we can calculate the quarterly sequential growth, measured in domains, for the whole DNS, for .com, for new gTLDs and for ccTLDs.
That table looks like this:
[table id=37 /]
It appears from this table that .com grew by more domains than new gTLDs over the last year — 4.8 million versus 4.36 million — but the numbers are a bit misleading due to the way Verisign sources its data.
For most ccTLDs, Verisign has always used the third-party research outfit ZookNic, which has its own way of estimating registration volumes.
For new gTLDs, Verisign uses the zone files as published daily by ICANN — the same source DI and others use to measure volume.
However, for .com Verisign uses its own in-house data source. It is, after all, the .com registry.
The numbers for .com you find in the DNIB reports are exactly the same as the numbers Verisign gives financial analysts and investors when it reports its quarterly earnings.
And the company changed the way it reports those numbers in Q1 this year.
See that unusually high addition of 2.2 million names in .com in Q1 in the above table? That reflects the addition of very nearly 750,000 hidden .com names in March this year.
At that time, Verisign started counting domains that are on “hold” statuses, largely due to new ICANN policies on unverified Whois information.
The last two DNIB reports have sourced .com numbers with this disclosure:

The domain name base is the active zone plus the number of domain names that are registered but not configured for use in the respective Top-Level Domain zone file plus the number of domain names that are in a client or server hold status.

The actual Q1 growth number for .com should in the 1.4 million to 1.5 million range, which would bring .com’s total growth over the last four quarters down to roughly 4.1 million names.
An apples-to-apples comparison of extant zone-file domain growth would show new gTLDs beating .com, in other words.
But is this a fair measure of demand?
No. It’s fairer to say that .com still outsells its competition by a long way.
New gTLDs had yet to experience any significant churn by Q2 this year, as most had been on the market for under a year, so the growth numbers are more or less untempered by the renewal cycle.
While Verisign’s .com growth is net, for new gTLDs it’s almost all gross.
Verisign says in the latest DNIB has it had 8.7 million new registrations across .com and .net in the second quarter, which would be roughly eight times as many as new gTLDs — all several hundred of them combined — managed to move.

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Comments (11)

  1. Ron says:

    Dummy registrations for .xyz, as well North sound names etc… Cannot be considered real user registrations

  2. Spencer says:

    lets see how next year looks. as people drop their new G’s.

  3. Spencer: Donuts had been regularly blogging about their renewal rates, until the numbers started to get pathetically low. On the first day, the renewal rate was 91.6%. By day 26, it was much, much lower. They stopped reporting after day 26, presumably because the numbers didn’t get any better.

  4. It should be noted that .COM is one TLD whereas nTLDs represent hundreds of new extensions launched over the last six quarters. .COM growth is stymied by drops which are not yet as significant of a factor for nTLDs. Given massive speculation amongst the domainer community in nTLDs, within two to three years drops will be a significant factor in total nTLD registrations. Also note CCTLDs in aggregate appear to be growing at a faster clip than nTLDs.

  5. Krishna says:

    What a headline!

  6. BT says:

    That’s just Year 1. By Year 5 new extensions will solidly be beating .com registrations and renewals.
    If Verisign’s market cap is nearly 8 billion dollars today, does that mean the other registries will rise to command similar collective value or will Verisign’s value drop?

  7. Yosemite Sam says:

    GTLD = Good To Lose Dollars

  8. Brad Mugford says:

    This comparison is extremely misleading.
    It is comparing net registrations (.COM registrations – deletions) to primarily gross registrations of new gTLD, since most have not even gone through their first drop cycle yet.
    If you compare gross (total registrations) of both it is not even close.
    This is not even factoring in the registrations that are inflating the new GTLD numbers like .XYZ forced free registrations, other extension free registrations, all the registry reserved domains like North Sound, etc. If those were removed then the overall numbers are even less impressive.

  9. The new gTLDs have a long way to go but there is definitely a future for them.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Not if brands don’t start putting their massive communication budget into either their brand TLDs (for those who have them) or their usage of new TLDs (either g’s or cc’s). So far, .ws – using a technically invalid but functioning emoji domains for Coke – is way ahead in this, with .movie usage in some releases in 2nd.

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