The Rise of .TV: A Drop in the .COM Bucket
We may have finally found a good reason to get off the couch and stop watching so much TV. Yes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers inspired millions when they sang “Throw Away Your Television,” although no one is actually throwing it away. They’re just getting up and walking over to the computer room.
Over the past several years, cable companies have been losing subscriptions as consumers move to on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. According to Bruce Leichtman, an analyst at Leichtman Research Group, more Americans subscribe to broadband Internet than cable television. This may explain why TV advertising sales have suffered a six percent decrease, the first decrease since the recession in 2009. However, as advertisers have slashed their budgets for network TV, a different TV has seen an influx of advertising spending. I’m talking about .tv.
Just last month, Amazon said it would pay $1.1 billion for the website Twitch.tv, which streams live feeds of people playing video games. Viewers pay a monthly fee to subscribe to players’ channels and advertisers can pay to have their ads play during breaks in the action. Twitch has already been raking in advertising dollars because it draws millions of viewers in the coveted 18-25 age group, historically one of the hardest demographics to reach with advertising. This big buyout has a lot of people talking about the rise of the .tv domain. In their article, “As Online Video Surges, the .TV Domain Rides the Wave” the New York Times writes “[y]ou’ve heard of the dot-com boom. Is the dot-tv boom next?” Well, is it?
In 1999, a company named DotTV payed Tuvalu, the tiny Pacific island country that was assigned the .tv domain, $50 million for the right to sell .tv’s to other companies. Since then, many companies, such as the MLB, have capitalized on the domain as an appropriate suffix for streaming video service. But does .tv pose a threat to the stranglehold that .com has on the Internet?
As of this morning, there are currently more than 114 million registered .com domains. Although the growth of .com registrations has slowed from a peak of 9% in 2010 to around 5.5% this year, the total number of .com domains dwarfs the country-code domains like Tuvalu’s .tv or Britain’s .uk. In fact, there are almost as many .com domains as all the country-code domains combined. As internet consumers, we assume that we will find what we want at a .com website and we take the .com extension to be a reassurance of the site’s legitimacy. When given a choice between stamps.com and stamps.tv, which would you pick?
The growth of .tv is symbolic of our transition from traditional television media consumption to broadband streaming media, but it’s not an indication that the .com extension is losing any steam. .Com is never leaving – it’s been there since the beginning and its name has become synonymous with the Internet itself. The numbers suggest that for the foreseeable future, the .com domain will continue to reign supreme.