An Afnic study of the global domain name market in 2020, impact of COVID on ccTLDs

Afnic, the French Network Information Center and manager of the .fr TLD, has just published its Afnic report on the global domain name market in 2020 on the global domain name market in 2020. The study is based on ICANN statistics, registry information, specialist websites and its own research.

It is an overview of global trends and an analysis of the mechanisms at work during the health crisis.

The global domain name market represented around 349 million domain names at the end of December 2020, up 1.3% from 4.7% in 2019, split between:

155 million .com and 32 million other Legacy TLDs (.net, .org, .biz, etc.) 130 million ccTLDs (TLD countries, corresponding to a territory or a country such as the .fr domain) 32 million new TLDs or nTLDs (geoTLDs, branded TLDs and community TLDs and generic TLDs created after 2012).

Highlights of some of the key points of the report:

After a steady increase since 2018, the market recovery came to an abrupt halt in the second quarter of 2020, with annual growth rising from 6.1% at the end of April to 1.3% at the end of December.

Evolution of growth rates (2018-2020)– The figure shows that the different segments had uneven performance in 2020: old TLDs remained stable, while ccTLDs plunged from May, dragging the market with them. The report explains the causes of this development and the real impact of COVID on ccTLDs.

With 155 million names, the .com domain remains the heavyweight, increasing its market share with growth of + 4.4%. The other 17 historic TLDs continue to lose inventory, even if this downward trend is less marked than in 2019 (-1.8% in 2020 against -6% in 2019).

Country TLDs (ccTLDs) are stable at 37% market share, despite a slight decrease in inventories (-0.9%). However, these numbers do not reflect the reality experienced by most ccTLD registries, which was that of a sharp increase.

NTLDs lost 1% of stock after two years of strong growth (+ 15.4% in 2018 and + 19.2% in 2019. This result is mainly due to two factors: the expiration of many .icu in October 2020 and the negative balance of the .top). domains (-1.6 million names).


2021 should see fairly sustained growth in the domain name market (5-10%), with business failures that are slow to materialize and the dynamics of operations stimulated by the consolidation of digital habits induced by lockdowns.

Faced with these complicated market conditions and difficult to interpret in their medium and long-term implications, the two basic trends of the concentration of players and the search for innovations on topics related to domain names (Data, Cybersecurity, IoT, digital identities, etc.), will remain relevant.

They can even become more pronounced, with domain names gaining meaning and value as they are more associated with habits and practices. The constant evolution of habits and practices makes innovation a permanent driver of this market and an imperative necessity for all its actors.

But the market landscape itself will change as the number of “pure players” becomes fewer and the process of alliances, mergers and acquisitions with other players in the “pure player” value chain. online presence ”will continue.