COVID-19 Blues Sees Global Domain Registrations Drop

The total number of domain names registered across all top-level domains across the world dropped by 2.8 million in the first quarter of 2021, or 0.8%, while in the year to 31 March they dropped 3.3 million, or 0.9%, according to Verisign’s latest Domain Name Industry Brief released Thursday. It was the second consecutive quarter total registrations have declined, and probably the second quarter in many many years, and at least in the 11 years for which Verisign has DNIBs available.

Initially as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold around the world, many TLDs saw an increase in registrations, with total registrations increasing by 4.5 million (1.2%) as the pandemic took hold in the first quarter of 2021 as many businesses that weren’t online went online as well as new business ideas from existing businesses. This saw a growing demand for domain names. In the second quarter of 2020 registrations went up 3.3 million (0.9%), in the third by 0.6 million (0.2%) but then the decline commenced in the fourth quarter with a decrease of 4.4 million (1.2%).

Top 10 largest TLDs by number of reported domain names

Most of the decline has been among new gTLDs. At the end of the first quarter of 2020 there were approximately 32.3 million domain names registered across the 1,100 plus new gTLDs that have been delegated, around half of which are restricted or belong to brands for their own use. But by the end of the first quarter of 2021 there were 22.8 million domains, a decrease of 3.2 million in the first quarter alone (12.3%) and 9.5 million domain names (29.3%) year over year. This compares to an increase of 9.3 million domain names (40.7%) in the year to 31 March 2020.

TOP 10 largest ccTLDs by number of reported domain names

But it wasn’t just new gTLDs that saw a decline. Total country code top-level domain (ccTLD) domain name registrations were 156.5 million at the end of the first quarter of 2021, a decrease of 2.4 million (1.5%), compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 and a decrease of 0.9 million (0.6%), year over year.

Verisign’s .com and .net gTLDs had differing fortunes for the first quarter and year. As of 31 March, there were 154.6 million .com domain names, up from 147.3 million year on year and 151.8 million at the end of the fourth quarter, while .net has remained stable with 13.4 million domain names at the end of each of the last 7 quarters.

Among the rest of the top 10 TLDs, .tk (Tokelau) remains second with its free domains model, dropping 400,000 to 24.7 million, China’s .cn dropped 2.9 million to 20.7 million, Germany’s .de increased 400,000 to 16.8 million, the United Kingdom’s .uk dropped 900,000 to 11.0 million, .org increased 400,000 to 10.4 million, the Netherlands’ .nl increased 300,000 to 6.2 million, Russia’s .ru remained stable at 5.7 million and Brazil’s .br increased 500,000 to 4.6 million.

New gTLDs As Percentage of Total TLDs

In the top 10 a year ago was .icu with 6.3 million, but registrations have plummeted. While nTLDstats and Verisign data differs somewhat, nTLDstats shows .icu having 6.694 million as of 31 March 2020 while a year later there were 2.258 million, a drop of over 4.4 million in 12 months taking it from the largest of the new gTLDs by registrations to sixth, behind .xyz, .online, .site, .top and .club. According to Verisign’s data, .icu went from accounting for 19.6% of all new gTLD domain names registered to 3.5% in 12 months.

Geographical ngTLDs As Percentage of Total Corresponding Geographical TLDs

New .com and .net domain name registrations totalled 11.6 million at the end of the first quarter of 2021, compared to 10.0 million domain name registrations at the end of the first quarter of 2020.

To read the latest quarterly Verisign Domain Name Industry Brief, or see an archive going back to 2010, go to: https://www.verisign.com/en_US/domain-names/dnib/domain-name-industry-brief-reports/index.xhtml

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