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New Reports Provide a Tale of Two Markets - Total Domain Registrations Slipped But Aftermarket Sales Surged in 4Q-2020

Verisign (the administrator of the .com and .net TLDs) has released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief covering the 4th quarter of 2020. The quarter closed with 366.3 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs) worldwide, a rare decrease of approximately 4.4 million domains from the previous quarter, representing a 1.2% decline  However, the 366.3 million total is 4 million more than the number at the same point a year ago, a 1.1% uptick.

The decline from the previous quarter can be traced to just three TLDs as Kevin Murphy detailed in a post an DomainIncite.com Tuesday. Kevin noted that .tk, an extension that offers free domains, dropped 2.8 million registrations from the previous quarter, .icu lost 1.9 million and .top plunged by 900,000. That trio's cumulative loss of 5.6 million names would account for all of the 4.4. million reduction and then some.

Verisign's dominating .com TLD was the biggest tower of strength in the market. The .coms added 1.5 million domains from the previous quarter and were up 6.3 million year over year, a 4.3% annual jump for the world's most popular extension. Meanwhile, Verisign's .net has remained anchored, almost eerily so, for a full year now. At the end of 2019, approximately 13.4 million .nets were registered. At the of the 3Q-2020, the number was still 13.4 million and at the end of 2020 it was, yep, 13.4 million. That's certainly better than going backwards, something .net had been doing for a long time before finally stabilizing.

On the ccTLD front, .tk drug down the whole category with their loss of 2.8 million domains. Without out that, the country domains would have been up over a million domains from the previous quarter instead of showing an overall loss of 1.7 million names. Year over year, the ccTLDs were up, gaining 1.3 million names (about 1%) to close with 158.9 million names registered.

The new gTLDs, on the other hand, went backwards both quarter to quarter and year over year. The group lost 4.2 million domains from the previous quarter. Two-thirds of that deficit can be pinned on .icu and .top. However, year over year, the new Gs still lost 3.3 million domains, an 11% drop to the 26 million they had at the end of 2020.

While the Verisign report gave us some great insight into the domain registration market, another report, from Escrow.com, provided a peak into what has been a surge in the domain aftermarket. In their latest quarterly 

Domain Investment Index (.pdf file) covering 4Q-2020, Escrow.com reported closing $93.8 million worth of domain sales on their platform, a powerful 21% leap from the $77.5 million they booked in the previous quarter. The report goes on to slice and dice the various kinds of domains the money came from that does an excellent job of showing you where the biggest strengths and weaknesses are in the current market.

(Posted March 10, 2021)

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