Global domain market in 2016: overall growth was 7.1%, no growth for ccTLDs

Afnic has published a complete overview of the global domain market in 2016 in a study based on ICANN statistics, information from registries, specialized web sites and its own research.

The overall domain name market growth in 2016 was 7.1%,  down from 11.7% in 2015. The 2015 growth was mainly because of the new registrations from China. Global growth in the domain name market in 2014 was 4.3%. So 2016 was still an exceptional year.

Country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) which had an excellent year in 2015, experienced zero growth in 2016. Despite that ccTLDs are a very mature market so 2017 would be an interesting year to watch.

Key points to remember

  • Overall market growth in 2016 was 7.1%,  down from 11.7% in 2015.
  • At the end of 2016, the global domain name market represented some 338 million domain names, including 169 million under Legacy TLDs (.COM, .NET, .ORG, etc.), 28 million under  nTLDs created from 2014 onwards, and 141 million under ccTLDs(GeoTLDs).
  • The situation of the “Legacy” TLDs varied quite considerably in 2016, some losing stock while others made marked progress. With its 131 million domain names and 39% market share, the .COM remained the market heavyweight but its positions are slowly being eroded, with a loss of 3 market share points since year-end 2014. Its growth has also considerably slowed down (from 6.4% to 3.7%).
  • nTLDs continued to gain market share in terms of volume, accounting for 8% of the domain names registered worldwide at year-end 2016, compared with 4% at year-end 2015. This development in the use of nTLDs is encouraging, although its level is still low. The nTLD market can be broken down into segments – Community, Geo, Generic and Corp – with very different purposes and profiles, from the hundreds of .Corp that only hold a few names, to generic TLDs involved in a race for volume.
  • Country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) which had an excellent year in 2015, experienced zero growth in 2016. Africa and North America were the most dynamic regions in 2016, while Europe in comparison stagnated. Latin America is growing slowly but surely, and the Asia-Pacific region is subject to very strong variations both upwards and downwards. That region today is the one that determines the overall market trend.

Major market trends in 2016

Since 2014, the market has undergone major upheavals caused by changes linked to the aim of market participants to diversify their sources of income, but also to pursue integration strategies within the value chain.

After boosting the performance of some TLDs in 2015, “Chinese domain name filings” are now weighing on the growth of these same TLDs because of the numerous deletions.

The build-up of the financial sphere in the capital of certain major players is resulting in ambitious strategies while subjecting the market to new frames of reference and changes in management teams.

The intensification of competition and the absolute necessity to optimize the match between supply and demand will continue to weigh on the players and force them to rethink their business models and their positions more than they have ever done since the market first emerged twenty years ago.

View the complete study of the worldwide domain name market in 2016 (PDF)


About Konstantinos Zournas

I studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and I am now living in Athens, Greece. I went online in 1995, started coding in 1996 and began buying domain names and creating websites in 2000. I started the blog in 2012.

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