Considering .asia and .tel results, how many domains can a new TLD expect to register?
What makes a top level domain name successful?
If you compare any top level domain to .com, they are all failures. But if you look at it from the registry’s perspective, the number required to be profitable isn’t that much.
.Biz brings in about $12 million a year to registry Neustar even though .biz is only tiny sliver of the domain market at two million domains. That’s not bad.
I’ve been told that some business plans for new top level domains anticipate registration levels of only about 35,000. That’s not much, and I suspect many general domains can get that many registrations in defensive registrations alone. But if it’s marketed to a niche community, that can be profitable.
So let’s look at numbers for a couple recent top level domains, .asia and .tel (I’ve already written about .mobi).
In its latest public ICANN report, .tel registry Telnic reported a total of 221,616 domains registered in July. The number seems to be growing 5,000-15,000 names a month. Recent estimates I’ve heard are that there are about 250,000 .tel domains registered, which jives with the current growth rate. But keep in mind .tel will take a hit after initial registration periods lapse.
.Asia has already seen its first round of drops from its land rush, and is now hovering at about 215,000 domains registered.
Neither of these TLDs faced intense competition when they were launched, and they are also fairly generic in nature. When new TLDs are launched en masse, they’ll face stiff competition with other similar TLDs. That means they’ll be lucky to approach the numbers .asia and .tel have, unless they manage to score good shelf space at a registrar like GoDaddy (or are launched by a registrar for that matter).
I’ve never had a first hand look at a business plan for a new TLD, but I hope their backers are being cautious with their forecasts.