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.

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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