The domain name market posted aggregate growth of +1.9% in 2022, an acceleration that reflects a break in the trend observed since 2019. As we foresaw in last year’s report, 2021 was the “trough” year, with a relative improvement over 2022.
At end of 2022, the global domain name market represented some 355 million domain names, up +1.9% on 2021, a surge in growth compared to the two previous years (+0.9% in 2021 vs. 2020 and +1.3% in 2020 vs. 2019).
Yet this performance is misleading as it is due to a very limited number of domains that experienced significant fluctuations.
million domain names (global market)
A weakened .com
The .com TLD was hit hard in 2022, posting two quarters of losses for the first time in its history. But this may well be linked just as much to the post-COVID return to normal as to the effect of its price increases in 2021 and 2022 or the tense international situation.
There were 164 million .com domains at the end of 2022, an increase of just +1.1% compared with 2021. In other words, stagnant in comparison with the year-on-year increases seen in 2021 and 2020, at +5.8% and +4.4% respectively. The .com TLD also lost one percentage point of market share (down from 47% in 2021 to 46% in 2022).
Despite this, .com continues to dominate the market, both in terms of volume (it accounts for 83% of all Legacy TLDs) and growth (all other major Legacy TLDs, excluding .org, are losing stock). Since the retention rate remains stable, the lack of movement in the .com domain in 2022 is due above all to the fall in its create operations.
ccTLDs boosted by certain major TLDs
ccTLDs are country-code Top Level Domains, like .fr (for France). There were a total of 129 million ccTLDs at the end of 2022, up +3.0% compared with 2021, following a fall of ‑3.8% in 2021 vs. 2020 and -0.9% in 2020 vs. 2019.
Even so, all of the major regions, with the exception of Asia-Pacific which had posted substantial losses in 2020/2021 and turned positive again (+7%), are experiencing a slowdown in growth: North America (+5% in 2022 vs. 2021 against +6% in 2021 vs. 2020), Africa (+9% against +15%), Europe (+1% against +3%), and especially Latin America, with growth down from +18% to +4% this year.
ccTLDs continue to thrive best in Europe: out of 29 ccTLDs with over a million names, 17 are in Europe, six in Asia-Pacific, three in Latin America and the Caribbean, two in North America, and one in Africa. But it was Europe that posted the biggest loss in terms of market share (-1.2 pp), primarily to the benefit of Asia-Pacific (+1 pp).
Other Legacy TLDs hold less interest
In addition to .com, there are now 17 Other Legacy TLDs, or ‘traditional’ domains created before 2012: .aero, .asia, .biz, .cat, .coop, .info, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .name, .net, .org, .post, .pro, .tel, .travel and .xxx.
There were 31 million Other Legacy TLDs at year-end 2022, down by -0.8% compared with 2021 and on the back of a previous decline in 2021 (-0.7% vs. 2020) and in 2020 (-1.8% vs. 2019).
In terms of stock, out of the 5 biggest Other Legacy TLDs by volume – .biz, .info, .mobi, .net and .org, – .org was the only one to grow (+1% vs. 2021). The performance of the others ranges from -1% for .net to -9% for .mobi.
In terms of create operations, .info doubtlessly benefited from a promotional campaign resulting in a sharp increase (+21% vs. 2021) in the number of create operations. All the other major Legacy TLDs, including .com, posted a fall in create operations, from -8% to -10%.
It still seems as if users are less and less interested in these domains which were presented at the time of their creation in 2001 as alternatives to the approaching saturation of the .com domain. Which is why the number of and trend in create operations are particularly informative key indicators.
nTLDs growing but stable in terms of market share
nTLDs, or “new TLDs” created from 2014 onwards encompass different segments including geoTLDs (.bzh, .paris, .alsace, .corsica, etc.), TLDs corresponding to brands (.sncf, .mma), community TLDs and generic TLDs.
There were 31 million nTLDs at the end of 2022, representing a +7.2% increase compared with 2021, following the two successive declines in 2021 (-9.4% vs. 2020) and 2020 (-1.0% vs. 2019).
nTLDs account for 9% of market share. Apart from a peak above 10% in mid-2020, this market share remains within the average over the past five years, generally between 8% and 10%, with no significant improvements or deteriorations.
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Afnic is the acronym for Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération, the French Network Information Centre. The registry has been appointed by the French government to manage domain names under the .fr Top Level Domain. Afnic also manages the .re (Reunion Island), .pm (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon), .tf (French Southern and Antarctic Territories), .wf (Wallis and Futuna) and .yt (Mayotte) French Overseas TLDs.
In addition to managing French TLDs, Afnic’s role is part of a wider public interest mission, which is to contribute on a daily basis, thanks to the efforts of its teams and its members, to a secure and stable internet, open to innovation and in which the French internet community plays a leading role. As part of that mission, Afnic, a non-profit organization, has committed to devoting 11% of its Revenues from managing .fr Top Level Domain to actions of general interest, in particular by transferring €1.3 million each year to the Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity.
Afnic is also the back-end registry for the companies as well as local and regional authorities that have chosen to have their own TLD, such as .paris, .bzh, .alsace, .corsica, .mma, .ovh, .leclerc and .sncf.
Established in 1997 and based in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Afnic currently has nearly 90 employees.