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An Afnic Study of the Global Domain Name Market in 2020, COVID Impact on ccTLDs

Afnic, the French Network Information Centre and manager of the .fr TLD, Has just published its Afnic's Global Domain Name Market in 2020 Report on the global domain market in 2020. The study is based on ICANN statistics, information from registries, specialized websites, and its own research.

This is an overview of global trends and an analysis of the mechanisms at work during the health crisis.

The global domain name market accounted for approximately 349 million domain names at the end of December 2020, up 1.3% compared to the 4.7% in 2019, broken down between:

155 million .com and 32 million other Legacy TLD (.net, .org, .biz, etc.) 130 million ccTLDs (country TLDs, corresponding to a territory or country like the .fr domain) 32 million new TLDs or nTLDs (geoTLD, brand TLDs and community TLDs and generic TLDs created after 2012).

Highlight of some of the key points from the report:

Following a steady increase since 2018, the market recovery came to an abrupt halt in the second quarter of 2020, with annual growth falling from 6.1% end of April to 1.3% at the end of December.

Change in growth rates (2018-2020) — The figure shows that the various segments performed unevenly in 2020: Legacy TLDs held steady, while ccTLDs nosedived from May on, dragging the market with them. The report explains the causes of this development and the real impact of COVID on ccTLDs.

With 155 million names, the .com domain remains the heavyweight, increasing its market share with +4.4.% growth. The 17 other legacy TLDs continue to lose stock, although this downward trend is less marked than in 2019 (-1.8% in 2020 vs. -6% in 2019).

Country TLDs (ccTLDs) are stable at 37% of the market share, despite a slight fall in stock (-0.9%). However, these figures do not reflect the reality experienced by most ccTLD registries, which was that of a strong increase.

nTLDs lost 1% of stock following two years of strong growth (+15.4% in 2018 and +19.2% in 2019. This result is primarily due to two factors: the expiry of many .icu in October 2020 and the negative balance of .top domains (-1.6 million names).

Conclusion

2021 should see fairly sustained growth in the domain name market (5-10%), with business failures taking time to materialize and the dynamic of operations stimulated by the consolidation of digital habits induced by the lockdowns.

Faced with these complicated market conditions, which are difficult to interpret in terms of their medium- and long-term implications, the two underlying trends, which are the concentration of players and the search for innovations in themes connected with domain names (Data, Cybersecurity, IoT, digital identities, etc.), will remain topical.

They may even become more pronounced, with domain names gaining in meaning and value as they become more associated with habits and practices. The constant evolution of habits and practices makes innovation a permanent driver of this market and an imperative necessity for all its players.

But the landscape of the market itself will evolve as the "pure players" become ever fewer and the process of alliances, mergers and acquisitions with other players in the "online presence" value chain moves on.

By Loic Damilaville, Market Research Manager at Afnic

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