Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Sports and new gTLDs: volumes

I count 29 new domain name extensions dedicated to sport. On that list, I added Esport service providers likes the .XBOX and .PLAYSTATION new gTLDs: they are game console Trademarks. 8 Trademarks are listed in this monthly report and the rest are generic new gTLDs, which domain names are dedicated to be sold to the general public.

Famous Four Media and GRS
Two extensions, previously operated by multiple registry Famous Four Media, the .RACING and .CRICKET new gTLDs, are now in the hand of GRS (Global Registry Services Limited): a disagreement on the strategy resulted in a court battle and it's quite possible that volumes of domain names registered for these two extensions keep dropping. When looking at the volumes of the .RACING Top-Level Domain and its 82,000 registrations, compared to .FOOTBALL which has 5,300 only, one might be tempted to wonder why would the market of Racing work so much better than the market of Football. The marketing technique maybe.

On some other new gTLD reports, I sometimes notice that some extensions have the exact same increase of domain name registrations each month. Of course, I would certainly not think that a registry would inflate his numbers but when it is so obvious, I would be tempted to think that something is wrong in the method. Of course, this is not the case with the .FITNESS and .DANCE new gTLDs (with .RUN and .YOGA?): these two extensions have been growing slowly since January 2018 and never lost registrations. I call this "meeting with adoption". Note that I unlisted the .FIT new gTLD from this report since I find it unclear about what it means exactly: Google offers 24 more translations for the word "fit" but its registration volumes were doing very good in 2017 (see in the report).

The Ryder Cup and .GOLF
Domain name registration volumes of the .GOLF new gTLD are decreasing but the Ryder Cup might change this. the problem is that the official website is still using a ".com" and the similar ".golf" domain name does not even redirect to it, when I believe that it should be the opposite: redirect the ".com" to the ".golf" and make that one the official website. Such initiatives can make a difference in terms of promotion. The FIBA (Basketball) recently made the change to a .BASKETBALL domain name and I believe that the FIFA (Football) might be tempted too with a .FOOTBALL (I was also told that the FIFA won't move until it has its hands on the .FOOTBALL new gTLD.

Slow start for the .RUGBY new gTLD
The World Rugby (formerly the International Rugby Board) changed to a .RUGBY domain name. The Top-Level Domain launched with a Sunrise Period in November 2017, went through 3 "limited registration periods", then through a "qualified launch program" which ended in January 2018. Nine months after, the number of domain names created has increased to 211. For a reason that I misunderstand, the registry website offers an "Invitation Only phase" which runs until 26 April 2019 and General Availability (when anyone can buy) starts in July 2019, the first. With such a low volume of domain names on the market, why make it so difficult to register a domain name?

The technique about restrictive TLDs
Restricting a TLD is a way to give the advantage of domain name registrations to a specific group or community: they can be "community applications" or a wording in the registration policy that has to be validated during the registration process and which makes the registrant (the buyer) think that he is a true member of this community and accepted by it. In reality, it a risk for the buyer since very few people read registration policies before buying a domain name. The risk is even increased since the registry, for whatever reason, can decide that the registrant does not comply with its registration policy and take down a domain name. Let's be frank about restricting a TLD...isn't it a technique used by "new gTLD experts" people like me to make a client think that he will have a better control over his TLD? On the paper it is. In reality, restricted TLD registration volumes show that it is the best technique to fail the launching of an extension. It is already difficult to sell domain names without restrictions like it is the case for .FOOTBALL, so adding restrictions certainly will not help give a TLD the chance to exist and deploy. Figures talk.

Confident about the future
Sport TLDs are the future of sport websites, no matter how long it takes and no matter how much they cost: generally speaking all volumes of sport domain names have increased since January 2018 so this can only be a positive sign for the future. Another reason for this is just "common sense", it is the same for existing niche TLDs: they offer more precision and trust. Wait for the Winbledon® website to use a .TENNIS domain name and for organizations like the World Surf League to use a .SURF: Rip Curl®, O'Neil® and Quiksilver® will follow.

Read the report here.

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