Afnic Study on 2016 Global Domain Name Market Finds Growth Declining

Growth in the total number of domain names registered worldwide was 7.1% in 2016, down from 11.7% in 2015, a study released Monday from the French ccTLD registry Afnic found.

Globally there were 338 million domain names at the end of 2016 including 169 million under legacy top level domains (.COM, .NET, .ORG, etc.), 28 million new generic TLDs, the first of which was introduced in 2014 and of which over 1,200 have now been delegated and 141 million under country code top level domains (ccTLDs).

Among the legacy gTLDs there is some variation with some going backwards, some increasing and others more or less treading water, the 2016 Global Domain Name Market [pdf] found.

With 131 million domain names and 39% market share, .com remains by far the largest TLD and even though registrations continually increase, its market share is slowly decreasing with a loss of 3 market share points since year-end 2014. Its growth has also slowed considerably, down from 6.4% to 3.7% in 3 years.

The new gTLDs continue to gain market share in terms of volume, accounting for 8% of the domain names registered worldwide at year-end 2016, compared with 4% at year-end 2015. The new gTLD market can be broken down into segments the report notes – Community, Geographic, Generic and Corporate – with very different purposes and profiles, from the hundreds of .Corp that only hold a few names, to generic TLDs involved in a race for volume.

ccTLDs which had an excellent year in 2015, experienced zero growth in 2016. Africa and North America were the most dynamic regions in 2016, while Europe in comparison stagnated. Latin America is growing slowly, and the Asia-Pacific region is subject to very strong variations both up and down. The Asia-Pacific region reflects the overall market trend.

Since 2014, the market has undergone major upheavals caused by changes linked to the aim of market participants to diversify their sources of income, but also to pursue integration strategies within the value chain.

After boosting the performance of some TLDs in 2015, “Chinese domain name filings” are now weighing on the growth of these same TLDs because of the numerous deletions.

The build-up of the financial sphere in the capital of certain major players is resulting in ambitious strategies while subjecting the market to new frames of reference and changes in management teams.

The report concludes that the intensification of competition and the absolute necessity to optimise the match between supply and demand will continue to weigh on the players and force them to rethink their business models and their positions more than they have ever done since the market first emerged twenty years ago.

To download the report in full, see: