Has it already been five years? It hadn’t been on our horizon until reading David Taylor’s article this week, but the priority registration period for second-level .uk domains will be ending in under three months.  On July 1, domains for which the priority claim was not exercised will become available for registration by the general public.

After dedicating last week’s post to an upcoming second-level launch, we thought it might be interesting to revisit .uk’s 2014 introduction in search of lessons to apply to .au and future launches of this nature.

Was it a success from Nominet’s perspective?

Probably.  The registry’s statistics indicate that around 2.3 MM second-level .uk domains are currently active.  We don’t know how much was spent on marketing nor what percentage of names were billed a discount rate, but we’d go out on a limb and speculate that it was a profitable launch.

Are people using .uk domains?

Not so much.  According to 2018 data, here are how many websites among Alexa’s list of the one million most popular use the different .uk suffixes:

  1. .co.uk  /  13,100 websites
  2. .ac.uk  /  479 websites
  3. .uk  /  414 websites
  4. .gov.uk  /  380 websites
  5. .nhs.uk  /  173 websites

The proximity to .gov.uk gives us a fair comparison point. Other domain name extensions in the 300-500 website range are largely .edu and .gov extensions under a large country’s ccTLD, for example .edu.cn (422) and gob.mx (394)

Put quite simply, a British user is about as likely to visit a .uk website as one operated by their country’s government.

Should domain investors circle July 1 on their calendar?

Yes.  Taylor’s article cites a figure of 3.1 MM .uk domains for which the priority claim was not excercised.  Granted, a majority of these names are likely specific strings that don’t have much speculative value (ex. bobspizzeriasurrey.uk).  However, it stands to reason that despite Nominet’s best efforts, a sizable chunk of .co.uk registrants simply aren’t aware of their priority rights or how to exercise them.

There’s also been talk of the registry publishing a list of second-level domains with unused claims before the July 1 release.  If that comes to pass, investors would have a head start to scan this list and identify domains they believe to have value.  As .uk is widely available and the domaining community is aware of Nominet’s release plan, the potentially valuable domains likely won’t last past July 1.

We’ll keep our eyes on the Nominet website to bring you concrete information the release as it becomes available.