There were 326.4 million domain names registered across all top level domains (TLDs) around the world at the end of the first quarter 2016, an increase of approximately 12 million domain names, or 3.8 percent over the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the latest Domain Name Industry Brief published by Verisign. Registrations have grown by 32.4 million, or 11 percent, year over year.
As of 31 March, new gTLD registrations totalled 16.1 million, which represented 4.9 percent of total domain name registrations. The top 10 new gTLDs represented over half (54.8%) of all new gTLD domain name registrations. The largest of the new gTLDs were .xyz and .top, which accounted for 16.5 and 11.1 percent of all new gTLD registrations respectively.
Total country code TLD (ccTLD) registrations were 148.2 million domain names, a 2.6 percent increase quarter over quarter, and an 8.2 percent increase year over year. The top 10 ccTLDs as of 31 March were .tk (Tokelau), .cn (China), .de (Germany), .uk (United Kingdom), .ru (Russian Federation), .nl (Netherlands), .eu (European Union), .br (Brazil), .au (Australia) and .fr (France).
The .com and .net TLDs experienced aggregate growth, reaching a combined total of approximately 142.5 million domain names in the domain name base in the first quarter of 2016. This represents a 7.1 percent increase year over year. The base of registered names in .com equalled 126.6 million names, while .net equalled 15.9 million names, the latter figure having being static for around three years.
New .com and .net registrations totalled 10 million during the first quarter of 2016. In the first quarter of 2015, new .com and .net registrations totalled 8.7 million.
There has also been a large jump in the growth of .com and .net domain names redirecting to popular global social media and e-commerce sites compared to Q1 2015. Weibo had the largest growth of 49 percent followed by LinkedIn (35%), Etsy (30%), Facebook (27%), Amazon.com (25%) and Twitter (23%). Verisign don’t give total numbers and for most at least it is likely to be growth from a comparatively small base.
Combining gTLDs and ccTLDs, the largest by zone size were .com, .tk, .cn, .de, .net, .org, .uk, .ru, .nl and .info. There were 291 global ccTLD extensions delegated in the root, including Internationalised Domain Names (IDN), with the top 10 ccTLDs composing 67.4 percent of all ccTLD registrations.
Regarding .tk, Verisign quotes from a Freenom news release that the Tokelauan ccTLD is a free ccTLD that provides free domain names to individuals and businesses. Revenue is generated by monetising expired domain names. Domain names no longer in use by the registrant or expired are taken back by the registry and the residual traffic is sold to advertising networks. As such, there are no deleted .tk domain names.
It also means that while .tk is the largest ccTLD, it’s numbers are very misleading when it comes to actual usage and demand.