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Economic Study on New gTLD Program’s Competitive Effects: Phase II Results Available for Public Comment

LOS ANGELES – 11 October 2016 - ICANN has published findings of its Phase II Assessment of the Competitive Effects Associated with the New gTLD Program [PDF, 1 MB]. The study explores whether the New gTLD Program has affected competition in the domain name marketplace.

Comment on the study

ICANN commissioned the study, conducted by Analysis Group, to inform the Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice Review Team’s analysis of the New gTLD Program.

The baseline findings published in the September 2015 Phase I Assessment established competition metrics for the domain name marketplace and also evaluated how the introduction of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) affected legacy gTLD registrations. Phase II results were compared against Phase I findings.

Phase II Key Findings:

Domain Name Prices

  • Average and median retail prices for registrations of legacy and new gTLDs have declined.
  • Retail mark-ups over wholesale prices have generally declined.
  • The overall wholesale price level of legacy gTLDs is lower than that of new gTLDs.
  • Wholesale price levels for legacy and new gTLDs remained stable from Phase I to Phase II. The presence of price caps on legacy TLDs may help to explain the absence of changes in legacy TLD wholesale prices.

Domain Name Registrations

  • New gTLD registrations account for 9 percent of all gTLD registrations as of March 2016, an aggregate of 16,570,035 registrations. This is an increase since November 2014, when new gTLD registrations accounted for approximately 2 percent of all gTLD registrations, an aggregate of 3,483,064.
  • The New gTLD Program has had no apparent effect on legacy gTLD registrations. However, the introduction of regional new gTLDs (e.g., .nyc and .berlin) is typically coupled with a decline in new gTLD and legacy registrations in that region.
  • The shares of domain name registrations across registries, and across registrars, continue to be more dispersed for new gTLDs compared with legacy gTLDs.
  • The share of registrations held by the top four, top eight, and top fifteen registries and registrars by domain name registrations has declined.
  • There is movement in the largest 15 registries and registrars as ranked by total domain registrations, with some registries or registrars who were not among the largest 15 in Phase I being ranked among the largest 15 in Phase II.
  • The largest percentage growth in the number of registry operators occurred in the Asia Pacific and European regions.

About the Phase II Assessment of the Competitive Effects Associated with the New gTLD Program

The ICANN Board adopted a recommendation to commission an economic study on the competitive effects associated with the New gTLD Program in March 2014. To establish a baseline of competitive measures in the domain name marketplace, Analysis Group requested pricing data for a sample of TLDs. The sample of TLDs used in Phase I included 109 new gTLDs, which represented 81.4 percent of new gTLD domain name registrations as of March 2015; Analysis Group also included 14 legacy gTLDs and 15 ccTLDs. The sample used in Phase II represents 83.3 percent of new gTLD registrations as of October 2015. An additional 30 new gTLDs were included based on registration totals at the time.

Registration counts are based on transaction reports that registry operators submitted to ICANN. Only gTLDs open to the general public for registration are included in the samples. The Phase II sample represents 65 unique registry operators, some of whom directly provided Analysis Group with wholesale pricing data. The Phase II sample of registrars represents 59 registrars with the most registrations of the gTLDs in the sample TLDs as of October 2015. Retail price data were collected from websites of the registrars from the sample and from Domain Name Prices.

Analysis Group collected, aggregated and anonymized all pricing data included in the study. Neither ICANN nor any party outside Analysis Group have access to this data set.

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About ICANN

ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you have to type an address into your computer - a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation and a community with participants from all over the world. ICANN and its community help keep the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It also promotes competition and develops policy for the top-level of the Internet's naming system and facilitates the use of other unique Internet identifiers. For more information please visit: www.icann.org.


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Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."