The curious tale of dotTV

By Stuart Fuller


Tuvalu is not a name that many people outside of the Internet world will have heard of.  In fact, I would suggest that a significant number of Internet professions would struggle to tell you anything about the small series of islands in the South Pacific, let alone the importance of their biggest contributor to their Gross Domestic Product.

Formerly known as the Ellice Island, Tuvalu sits in one of the remotest parts of the world in between Australia and Hawaii with a population of just 11,000 but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the island started to gain international acclaim down to two letters - TV.  The islands were given the right by IANA to manage the dotTV domain name space back in 1996.  Two years later the Ministry of Communications and Transport signed an agreement with a US start-up called DotTV worth $50 million over a 12 year period to run the dotTV registry.  The revenue increased the country’s GDP by 50% and allowed the government to join the United Nations, to invest in the infrastructure of the outlying Tuvalu islands as well as creating scholarships for its citizens.

In 2001 the deal was renegotiated after Verisign acquired dotTV, with a minimum of $2.2 million being paid annually to the Government of Tuvalu plus a share of any revenues above $20 million for a contract to run until the end of December 2016.  Quite what will happen when the contract comes for renegotiation later this year is unclear.

The domain still remains incredibly popular today, even with the launch of the new gTLD programme.  As of the end of the end of February, the dotTV zone had approximately 569,000 registrations, making it into the top 50 TLDs in terms of registrations.  Around 4,000 of those names appear in the Alexa Top 1 Million which is significantly higher than other TLDs that have been around for a while (such as dotMobi, dotAsia and dotME).  The highest ranked domain name in the list is which is an online gaming site, ranked 119 within the Top 1 million sites, whilst some of the most famous names are (the website for the live streaming app owned by Twitter), (official website of Liverpool FC) and (Official streaming website of the Major League Baseball).