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New TLD data shows a precipitous decline, but there’s more to the story

A handful of top level domains account for major DUM losses.

A chart showing new top level domains under management, with the number peaking at 35 million and dropping to 25 million
Total registered new TLDs are dropping, but there’s more to the story—image from nTLDStats.com.

If you take a quick look at the nTLDStats‘ data, it might look like new top level domains are falling off a cliff. From October 2020 to May 2021, registered domains under management (DUM) have fallen nearly 30%, from 35 million to 25 million.

A closer look at the data shows that there’s more to the story. The drop is accounted for by a handful of domain names that have a low-high registration model. First-year registrations are very cheap (if not free), and the registry hopes that some people will renew their domains for full price on the first anniversary.

From October 2020 to this week, .ICU shed over 4 million domains, ending at 1.3 million. .Top went from 3.3 million domains under management to 1.2 million. .Site lost 600k to 1.2 million.

.Club, .VIP and .Buzz each lost between 250k-350k during this time period.

“Core” registrations for new top level domains — meaning domains that end users register with plans to use — seem to be chugging along. I’m basing this on domains and registries that have fairly regular pricing models. There isn’t rocketship growth, but people are discovering and registering domains in the new extensions.

In the future, I suspect we’ll see a handful of new TLDs continuing with the low-high model. This will cause temporary spikes in registration numbers, only to settle out at renewal time. We’ll also see slow and steady adoption of new top level domains over time.

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  1. Jothan Frakes

    If one draws in the context of covid-19 pandemic, and the financial impacts for many who had to operate on a shoestring budget or go into debt, there is a theory that would spill into pragmatism on what to renew vs groceries or rent.

    We saw the secondary market thrive and grow a bit at the same time, so it appears there was a shift in registrant behavior.

    Another interesting thing to weigh in the number-gazing is how domain names that activate email, hosting or other services have renewal rates that are orders of magnitude higher when contrasted against those which park or are speculatively aquired.

    • Charles


      And with those comments in mind, .ICU dropped 90% over the year. Do those that still have .ICU domains care about the drop or will their traffic in any way be affected?

      For domain investors the answer is probably yes, for those using the domain in an effective way the answer is likely no.

      If .COM dropped by 50% would the traffic on Google.com be affected? No …

      I think domain investors put too much into reg counts. For example .COOP is still around and has not “died” yet, but if I were to believe some people comments that should have been impossible.

      We define success as the amount of arbitrage the industry leaves for us to profit from. The more arbitrage in a given TLD the more that TLD is called a success. End users don’t look at it that way …. So do domains exist for end users or domain investors? ….

  2. Richard B Morris

    .Online seems to be bucking the trend with with 2,021,000 DUM or Domains Under Management as of today’s report. I wonder why that is?

    Checkout NamesCon.Online for further information.

    • Mark Thorpe

      You can dress-up non-com’s whichever way you want, but you still end up with square wheels.
      .COM just keeps steamrolling along on round wheels.
      All roads do lead to dot com in the end.

      • snoopy1267

        Agree, there is zero traction with New TLDs, just people trying to dress up bad numbers.

        That real action is .IO/.CO/.AI which has now taken most of the market that New TLDs were supposed to have.

  3. Steve

    I just keep driving down the road, with the windows down and AM on the radio…if I can’t get a decent AM station, I’ll put in an AI, IO, CO tape or occassionally mix it up with a .ME or .Org

    For road trips in the UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, I’ll put me on some .CO.UK, ES, DE, IT

    Life is good. I do my best to keep mine simple.

  4. Lifesavings

    I suspect once Google, Amazon, and a couple other big players get ALL their newTLD delegation live, we’ll see REAL marketing on these. Something we haven’t experienced yet.

    To that, the prospect of yet another round isn’t helping (and WHEN? Dragging feet…It’s almost as if ICANN is WAITING for this media mania BEFORE they start next round…). These big players (call them what you want), undoubtedly love to keep the competition low until they grab the next batch. I won’t entertain anyone saying these are ‘dead’ and/or suggest the new batch will be a flop. To say, there will be ‘no interest’ – I won’t even entertain you – just bluntly.

    This is still stealth mode. And some of the earliest operators were deadbeats, or worse, concerning the concepts, values, and so on. Hence, the smart money is consolidating them.

    The “so many TLDs” (dilution argument), in my mind, is malarkey. WE ALL KNOW it isn’t about HOW many, it is about each individual domain, the merit of each stands its their own, regardless of ‘how many’!

    I also won’t comment on what I think is too many TLD, if there is such a thing…I will say, the STRENTH in these, are the numbers, currently 1000+ (about 700 meaningful English words).

    The older, 10 (or so) ‘nTLD’ wasn’t enough to get the ball rolling. Now, with so many ‘fitting’, there is something for everyone (loosely). Again, the ‘past’ was ineffective because the TLD didn’t suit enough. It could never get popular without everyone having the ‘perfect’ combo, ‘span the dot’. I am saying, a total shift, to everything NEW.

    I don’t buy that .com can grow along side these. It’s ONE or the ALL the others, that will ultimately be ‘cool’. FOR THE MOST PART. .COM won’t die, but it is not going to GROW more. Better just consider it “all or nothing” concerning .com vs everything, for simplicities sake.

    It’s just my opinion, that the public will PERFER a fitting newTLD. It won’t take much to get that ball rolling. But, we’ll see, just oh, wait until all the cards are dealt!

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