A history lesson
When it comes to country code extensions, .tv is one of the best.
Now .tv is the country code for the tiny island nation of TUVALU the world’s smallest country.
Tuvalu is a Polynesian island nation located midway between Hawaii and Australia. In the mid 1980’s two letter extensions known as country codes were assigned to every country. Tuvalu struck gold being allotted .tv.
In the 1980’s no one had any idea that this was to be such a windfall for the tiny island nation.
Interest grows in .tv
In 1998, Jason Chapnik a Canadian entrepreneur who was president of Information.ca approached the Tuvalu government with an idea on how to profit from their popular country code.
Chapnik was not the only one interested in .tv.
Anton Van Couvering who was the former President of Net Names had been consulting Tuvalu on how to profit from their country code.
Van Couvering stepped down as a consultant in order to become a bidder for .tv through his company Net Names.
After months of negotiation in the fall of 1998 Tuvalu decided to go with Chapnik. Chapnik started out with a pricing structure that would price .tv much more than traditional prices for .com/net/org.
They started out taking $1000 deposits for the first year with renewals at $500 a year. There was also an auction structure set up to settle domain disputes or if there was two or more entities that shared a certain name.
Chapnik made many promises and gave rather high estimates to the Tuvalu government on sales of .tv domains. When Chapnik was unable to raise the $50 million upfront payment to the Tuvalu nation, he brought in a white knight to save the deal.
*See the notes at the end of this post for all the contract details.
Enter Idealab, the California incubator came in and Tuvalu agreed to license their country code for $1million per quarter, adjustable for inflation, with a $50 million cap over 10 years. Additionally the Tuvalu nation got a 20 % interest in the company.
In August of 2000 Idealab announced the three most expensive sales in .tv history. Free.tv,China.tv and Net.tv were sold for $100,000 for the first year and an additional percent for each year following.
ChinaGo.com is the registrant of China.tv and Net.tv and have maintained their registration to the present day. Free.tv is registered to a Pennsylvania man that also has kept the registration up to date.
In another marketing deal Dot Tv gave the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences the domain emmys.tv for free in exchange for them to promote the site during their telecast of the EMMYS in Sept of 2000.
During this time some individuals started to make a big leap into the .tv extension. The two largest being Thunayan K Al-Ghanim a Kuwaiti businessman who has one of the largest domain portfolios on the planet. Al-Ghanim through his Future Media Architects owns suchs gems as Sexy.tv, Mp3.tv,several 1 letter .tv domains such as s.tv,t.tv,l.tv and z.tv and many more. Another major player Igal Lichtman also know to many as Mrs Jello/exoticdomains.net/Boogie Productions, owns such gems as xxx.tv,girls.tv,n.tv,x.tv, fun.tv and many more.
One benefit these early adopters received was cheap premium renewal fees. Al-Ghanim had $50 renewals and Lichtman had $25 renewals. It was not uncommon to be able to negotiate renewal fees back in the early days especially if you were a big player in the .tv extension.
On January 7,2002 IdeaLab sold its Dot Tv International unit for $45 million to Verisign. The deal was an all cash deal and Verisign at the time stated the transaction would add less than $1million in sales for the 4th quarter of 2001. Verisign also said it would add $7 to $10 million in deferred net revenue.
Verisign took over and started doing business at www.tv where premium registrations could only take place through Verisign with a minimum two year contract. Non premium registrations were $50 at www.tv but other registrars such as Go Daddy, Idotz.net, Moniker and a whole host of others offered 1 year registrations for as little as $29.99 to as high as $59.99.
In the world of domain forums .tv was pretty much shunned, either considered to be too expensive or just commented on as .tv sucks. There was little to no information on the extension until November of 2005, Namepros.com started what was to be the first ever extension specific subforum. The forum located at www.namepros.com/dot-tv picked up steam quickly and educated a whole new domainer on the .tv extension.
In September of 2006 Verisign offered a once in a lifetime chance for the small domain investor interested in premium domains.
Since Verisign took over the pricing had changed from Idealab now a LL.tv cost anywhere from $1000 to $10,000 a year.
A LLL.tv a very popular genre of domain, cost $5oo and then rose to $750 a year. There was now to be a sale of all sales in the .tv extension.
Verisign offered 70 % off the initial registration period and 50 % off renewal fees. An LL.tv could be regged for $300 for as many years as someone wanted to pay upfront and then $500 a year after in renewal.
In December 2006 Verisign announced it had partnered with Demand Media for a new marketing program for the .tv extension. Demand Media led by Richard Rosenblatt who successfully turned around and sold MYSPACE to News Corp is very bullish on the .tv extension. Demand Media rolled out Me.tv a set of social tools to allow anyone to set up their own “TV”channel.
Tom Gardner of Motley Fool fame gave his backing of the extension at a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. domainer convention where he said he thought the extension would be an extension to watch in 2007.
The extension responded in 2007 posting more sales than the previous 3 years combined. Such names as De.tv, Surface.tv, Six.tv and AuctionNetwork.tv have all sold for over $20,000. It is also known that the domain ME.tv sold with a non disclosure we did verify that it was at least xxx,xxx Demand Media being the buyer.
Highest reported sales in the secondary market are Travel.tv for $65,000 and Mail.tv for $35,000 both purchased by Thunayan K AL-Ghanim from the same seller.
ChannelMe.tv turned out to be a bust. Demand Media closed the channel me platform in July of 2009 suggesting users move to magnify.net.
.TV really staggered along over the next year then came March 17,2010. Enom sends out an email that only some received. Top .tv investors started regging names at the deal price.
The early buzz is that legendary domainer Frank Schilling is in. But the offer on March 17 is nothing compared to what happens next.
On top of this new pricing plan, premium renewal was gone. March 18,2010 some start regging names and noticed there was no premium.
Names like Debt.tv and Tech.tv and Shows.tv along with one letter P.tv and D.tv were all just a regular fee. Enom allowed all these .tv registrations to stand.
The premium system was taken down and March 19,2010 everything was back up and the frenzy began.
Although this time some names were priced non premium. Some slipped through and others did not.
Apparently Frank Schilling was able to give his .tv back as he did not want them at the price offered March 17,2010.
A few more big domainers come into .tv. Michael Berkens of www.thedomains.com who owned one .tv prior (Great.tv, which he pays a $3000 premium renewal) jumped in and regged about 20 names. Telepathy Inc. came in and regged a few including California.tv and Florida.tv. The regging frenzy lasted for about a week.
Another result of this change was that more than just ENOM could offer premium .tv. Registrars like Name.com and Dynadot got in the game. Even though there is no premium renewal, a premium cannot be transferred.
With the new pricing Sedo held an auction for some of the top premium .tv. The auction started April 1,2010. Top 5 sales were:
- business.tv $100,999
A big buyer at the auction was a company called Portalis. They were high bidder on many names in the auction including:
Right away people made money from the change in pricing. The Chinese investor who got beyond lucky and regged P.tv and D.tv for reg fee, sold D.tv to Michael Berkens for $18,000. Berkens posted that he turned down $125,000 for the name.
At the end of 2010 the owner of Hollywood.tv dropped Sports.tv. This name was picked up on the drop for $54,000. In a poll on Namepros 74 % of the people thought this was a good buy at $54,000.
USA.tv sold for $125,000 back in 2015
Notable .tv sites include:
MLB.tv Major league baseball uses the site for the streaming of live baseball games.
FYI.tv owned by A&E Television Networks
Twitch.tv Probably the most popular website using the .tv extension.
* Contract info
In 1999, the Government of Tuvalu signed a contract with USA based DotTV Corporation International to market and manageits ccTLD ‘.tv’ indefinitely.
In return for the exclusive rights to sell second-level domain addresses, the Government would receive US$1 million per quarter for 12.5 years and 20% equity in the company.
To 30 September 2000, the Government duly received five quarterly payments of US$1 million, plus a one-off lump sum payment of US$12.5 million after the principal investor, Idealabs Inc. Pasadena, California, exercised a call option under the agreement.
In late 2000, the Government arranged with DotTV Corporation to forego quarterly payments for the December quarter of 2000 and the first two quarters of 2001, to acquire US$3 million of preferred stock in the corporation. In mid-2001, the DotTV Corporation ran into financial difficulties and in December 2001 the company was purchased by VeriSign, Inc., the domain administrator for “.com.”
Tuvalu’s share of the sale amounted to about US$10 million, which was received as a lump sum. The new contract with Verisign provides Tuvalu with US$2.2 million per annum plus 5% of all revenue exceeding US$20 million sales per year. VeriSign holds the rights to market ‘.tv’ for 15 years. The contract expires Dec 31,2016.