Global TLD report Q1 2021: 4.9% YOY growth of European ccTLDs

The CENTRstats Global TLD Report Q1/2021 has been published. It covers the global status and registration trends in all top-level domains (legacy gTLDs, new gTLDs and ccTLDs), with a specific focus on the European ccTLD market.

Highlights from the report:

  • The median growth of European country-code domains (ccTLDs) at the end of Q1 2021 was 4.9% YOY.
  • Demand in new domain purchases continued to increase in the first quarter of 2021.
  • The median buy price of a CENTR member ccTLD domain is 10.0 EUR  with the renewal price at 14.0 EUR.
  • 25% of ccTLD domains queried are broken or have no functioning content compared to 43% of gTLDs.
  • Across EU countries, the median market share of ccTLDs is stable at 54% based on local registrations and 35% (+2% YOY) based on popular websites.
  • The median growth of the top 300 gTLDs was 7.0% in 2020.

The pdf version of the report can be found here.

Quick glance statistics

  • The median growth of European country-code domains (ccTLDs) at the end of Q1 2021 was 4.9% YOY.
  • Demand in new domain purchases continued to increase in the first quarter of 2021 (based on median domain creation rates) while rates of expirations/deletions remained stable.
  • The median buy price of a CENTR member ccTLD domain is 10.0 EUR (inc. tax and any promotions) with the renewal price at 14.0 EUR (inc. tax). The median promotional price recorded in April 2021 was 6.1 EUR (inc. tax)
  • 25% of ccTLD domains queried are broken or have no functioning content (e.g. HTTP/DNS errors, timeouts etc). A further 16% lead to a registrar holding (parked) page.
  • Across EU countries, the median market share of ccTLDs is stable at 54% based on local registrations and 35% (+2% YOY) based on popular websites.

Registrations and growth drivers
European ccTLD operators will be watching their registrations carefully as the first renewal cycles approach for domains created over 2020. The question they will be asking is the extent to which the high rates of new domain purchases over 2020 will be retained. Typically, the first year renewal of a domain has the highest likelihood for expiration (compared to domains that have already been renewed more than once), however making predictions during this unique period is challenging, particularly given the fast changing policies around the movement of people in Europe. Over Q1 2021 rates of new domain purchases continued to climb while expiries and deletes remained stable. This resulted in a further increase to the median growth of European ccTLDs (4.9% in the 12 months to March 2021). It is likely however that this trend will face pressure into Q2 as domains purchased at the beginning of the 2020 lockdowns in Europe come up for renewal. Although we expect a rise in deletes and expirations, the rate may not be severe. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, widely reported shifts from physical shops to online particularly in consumer goods and services appears to be more entrenched than previously thought. Secondly, the increased demand for domains over 2020 does not appear to be linked to registrar price discounting (an activity which often sees high sales followed by high expiries at renewal). Something else which will impact the retention of domains is how those domains have been used. In web analysis, CENTR data shows average error and parking rates among ccTLDs to be significantly lower than equivalent rates among the top 100 gTLDs. This will provide a cushion to the eventual slowdown in new domain sales as well as mitigate any sharp increase in deletes.

TLD preference in Europe
For most European countries, the local country code (ccTLD) remains a popular choice. Based on registrations made by local residents, the median market share of EU based ccTLDs is 54% (+1% year on year). Another measure of TLD preference is to examine the most popular websites by web traffic in each country. It is important to note that using only the largest websites by traffic does create a bias in favour of gTLDs. This is because the most visited websites in most developed economies tend to be multi-national corporations to which gTLDs are often considered a better fit. The median share of local ccTLDs based on top 1000 most visited websites is 35%. This rate is up 2% year on year which should be considered an encouraging trend for ccTLD registries.

How domains are being used
How domains are being used is crucial to the long term stability and viability of any TLD. The number of broken domains or those with registrar holding (parked) pages should be considered a liability to the registry due to their reduced likelihood of renewal. For long term sustainability, registries should focus their attention to ensure their rates of broken and parked domains are kept low. Over a sample of European ccTLDs CENTR data shows that 25% of domains queried are broken or have no functioning content (e.g. HTTP/DNS errors, timeouts etc). A further 16% lead to a registrar holding (parked) page. These figures tend to be higher for gTLDs (see gTLD highlights). Note: CENTR will continue to add more analysis of domain usage in upcoming reports.

Global trends

At the end of 2020, the global market was estimated at 354 million domains split between ccTLDs (38%) and gTLDs (62%). The median growth of the top 300 largest TLDs (Global300) was 5.3%. By group, the were 3.3% for ccTLDs in the Asia Pacific region (APTLD20), 4.4% for ccTLDs in Europe, 7.0% for the top 300 gTLDs and 0.63% for the top 30 geographic gTLDs. High growth TLDs over 2020 were :

  • ccTLDs
    • Europe: .ge (Georgia) +15% to 52K, .pt (Portugal) +11% to 1.3M and .ie (Ireland) +10% to 310K
    • Outside Europe: .id (Indonesia) +38% to 494K , .lk (Sri Lanka) +27% to 47K and .ir (Iran) +21% to 1.4M.
  • gTLDs: .bar +415% to 116K, .cam +412% to 41K and .page +314% to 227K.
  • Geographic-gTLDs: .tokyo +53% to 193K, .miami +37% to 13K and .africa +22% to 27K.

gTLD highlights

  • There were roughly 214 million gTLD domains (exclude .brands) registered at the end of 2020 – an increase of 4.4% year on year. Of these domains, 92% are held by the top 10 gTLDs. This ratio has not changed over 2020 suggesting that diversity among gTLDs is not increasing.
  • Median growth of the top 300 gTLDs was 7.0% in 2020. This was driven by increasing demand in new registrations (based on median rates in the top 300) throughout the year as well as a slow-down in deletions and expirations particularly in the second half of the year.
  • Based on web scans, 43% of gTLD domains queried are broken or have no functioning content (e.g. HTTP/DNS errors, timeouts etc). A further 22% lead to a registrar holding (parked) page. gTLDs (from the top 100) with the lowest rates of broken/errors and parked domains are .tel, .cat, .blog, .berlin and .bayern.
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About Konstantinos Zournas

Studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and now living in Athens, Greece. Love domains and building websites. Went online in 1995, learned about HTML in 1996 and about domains in 2002. Started publishing the OnlineDomain.com blog in 2012.

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