European ccTLDs dominate domain name registrations in European countries, totalling 69 million across the continent, and making up 3 in 5 (59.5%) of all registrations. There are also 35 million .com domain names (30.2%) and 13 million domain names registered in all other gTLDs (11.2%), according to the latest CENTRstats Global TLD Report Q2/2021.
The report covers the global status and registration trends in all top-level domains (legacy gTLDs, new gTLDs and ccTLDs), with a specific focus on the European ccTLD market. It finds that growth in total registrations was highest in the “all other gTLDs” category, with a growth rate of 12% for the year to the end of June, while .com increased 5% for the year and ccTLDs a modest 2%.
While in recent years registration growth had plateaued, in the 12 months to the end of March 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, the report notes median growth in European ccTLDs rose consistently for one of the first times since data has been recorded at CENTR. It reached a high of 4.9% (year-on-year) in March but has since dropped back to 3.6% for the CENTR30 (out of CENTR’s 34 European members).
The trends the report also notes “are likely to be linked to lockdowns across Europe which increased and reinforced the move online for businesses across the region. The increases were driven mostly by increase in demand in new domains over 2020 as well as a subtle improvement to the renewal rates in the latter part of the year. The seasonal nature of demand has often shown that new domain sales generally climb from mid-year to around January when they start to decline. In 2021, however, demand continued through till March before declining. Despite the drop in demand, median growth is still at a 5 year high.”
However while growth has reached what is sometimes referred to as a saturation point in many of the European ccTLDs, there are likely more than half where there are plenty of growth opportunities.
The CENTR report notes the median domains per 100 people in Europe is 11. But “there are at least 20 European countries below this value suggesting that for many, there is plenty of room for further growth.”
For the report, CENTR examined registration dynamics between new domain purchases and deletes in 2021. They found “the main driver for the slowing growth in Q2 is likely explained by a reduction in demand for new domains (and not an increase in deletes which would be more concerning). The data shows that surges in domain sales in 2020 have so far been retained.”
On retail pricing of domain names, CENTR found the median price of European ccTLD domain names was €10.8 which was slightly below .com at €11.8. In recent months there has been little change in the costs of domain names, promotions see variations. Promotion registration fees of European ccTLD domains has been around €6.00 but .com registrar discounts have been falling in price over several quarters and are currently around €7.90.
Globally CENTR estimates there were 317 million domain names registered at the end of the second quarter of 2021, while Verisign in their Domain Name Industry Brief claimed there were 367.3 million. And while ccTLDs made 3 in 5 of all domain name registrations in Europe, globally ccTLDs made up one in 3 (32%). Growth among the “300 largest TLDs (Global300) was 6.4% in the 12 months to April 2021. Similarly to the European ccTLDs mentioned above, the Global300 median has been trending up since early 2020, however this started to plateau around April 2021.”
By region and type there were variations in growth rates. The growth rate among ccTLDs in the Asia Pacific region (APTLD20) was 4.3%, 4.5% for ccTLDs in Europe and 7.8% in the top 300 gTLDs. Among geographic gTLDs the report notes after a period of negative median growth they moved into the positive figures late in the year. The median growth of the top 30 geographic gTLDs (city and region TLDs) was 0.8% in the 12 months to April 2021 – well short of the gTLD300 rate.
“gTLDs remain heavily concentrated in a small group (92% within the top 10) and show no sign of change. New gTLDs have yet to make any significant dent in the overall gTLD market share, and gTLD diversification has actually declined, becoming even more concentrated to the largest gTLD, .com. Over the past 3 years the share of .com within all gTLDs moved from 70% at the start of 2018 to 74% in May 2021. All remaining gTLDs moved from 30% to 26% in the same period.”
When it comes to usage, based on the top 100 gTLDs, CENTR crawling data found around 43% of domain names registered in gTLDs were broken (e.g., connection, DNS and HTTP errors) while a further 28% were either parked, abandoned or contained blank pages. This left around a quarter (24%) with a normal functioning website. Of these sites, 61% had an MX record, 65% an SSL certificate and 28% a redirect. Among ccTLDs there were quite large differences. Over a quarter (27%) of ccTLD domains queried were broken or had no functioning content (e.g. HTTP/DNS errors, timeouts etc). A further 27% led to parked, abandoned, blocked or other low content pages. This left 46% which were considered normal functioning websites.