An Afnic study of the global domain name market in 2020, impact of COVID on ccTLDs

Afnic, the French network information center and manager of the .fr extension, has just published its report on the Afnic global domain name market in 2020 on the global domain name 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 represented around 349 million domain names at the end of December 2020, up 1.3% compared to 4.7% in 2019, broken down between:

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

Highlighting some of the key points from the report:

After 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% at the end of April to 1.3% at the end of December.

Evolution of growth rates (2018-2020)—The figure shows that the different segments performed unevenly in 2020: legacy TLDs remained stable, while ccTLDs plunged from May, 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 growth of +4.4%. The 17 other historical extensions continue to destock, even if this downward trend is less marked than in 2019 (-1.8% in 2020 against -6% in 2019).

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

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


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

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

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

But the market landscape itself will change as pure players become fewer in number and the process of alliances, mergers and acquisitions with other actors in the value chain of the “online presence” will continue.

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