Year-after-year, the dot-com domain name base has continued to grow. Verisign, which manages the dot-com and dot-net registries, reported its fourth quarter financial results on Feb. 8, alongside its latest data on the number of registered domains.
At the end of the fourth quarter of Verisign's fiscal 2017 year, there were 131.9 million dot-com domain names registered. Additionally, there were 14.5 million dot-net names registered, with the combined year-over-year gain for the two domain registries coming in at 2.9 percent.
One of the key metrics that Verisign tracks is the number of new domain registrations across the registries that it manages, as well as the renewal rate. For the fourth quarter, the renewal rate was 72.2 percent, up from 67.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. Looking at new name registrations, Verisign reported 9.0 million registration in the fourth quarter, up from 8.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.
"2017 was a strong year for the dot-com and dot-net domain name base, in which the company processed 36.7 million registrations and finished the with 146.4 million links," Jim Bidzos, executive chairman, president and CEO, said during his company's earnings call. "During the year, we marked more than 20 years of uninterrupted availability of the VeriSign DNS for dot-com and dot-net."
For the quarter, Verisign reported revenue of $296 million, up by 3.2 percent year-over-year. Full-year income was reported at $1.17 billion, up 2.0 percent year-over-year.
Verisign operates the dot-com and dot-net registries under an agreement with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2017, NTIA renewed Verisign's dot-net registry agreement for another six years until 2023. The dot-com registry agreement was renewed by NTIA in September 2016 and is currently extended out to 2024.
Bidzos expects that domain name growth will continue in 2018, with expectations that the domain name base growth rate will be between 2 and 3 percent. For the first quarter of 2018, Verisign is forecasting an increase to the domain name base of between 1.5 million to 2 million registrations.
As was the case during Verisign's third quarter earnings call, Bidzos was asked about he impact of cryptocurrency on domain name growth.
"I don't think that there are any meaningful direct contributions to new net registrations in the numbers that we've reported," Bidzos said about cryptocurrency-related domain names. "There is just a huge amount of interest in cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin."
Bidzos added that he has seen a spike in the value of cryptocurrency domain names in the secondary market.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.