DotTV scoops the ratings

Australians have been signing up with The .tv Corp. (DotTV) at a record clip since the U.S. company launched a radio ad campaign here two months ago.

Across the Internet, average domain-name pricing is slumping from about US$35 toward US$15. Not so the dot-tv country code, which DotTV administers under a lucrative arrangement with its owners, the South Pacific island of Tuvalu. It commands an average of US$50 to US$100 per domain name, according to DotTV Asia Managing Director Bob Neer.

At the top end, it has sold premium names such as sex.tv and drugstore.tv for US$350,000 and US$455,000 respectively. And that rate only guarantees the name for one year.

In the past 11 months DotTV's subscriber base has grown from zero to more than 300,000. Despite its lack of reseller pacts with any Australian registry companies, the company is doing land office business off its own web site, according to Neer. Spurred by the radio campaign, Australian registrations made up 9 percent of all new subscribers in recent months, he said.

The attraction is a country code that has universal meaning and that prompts people to think of rich media, in Neer's opinion. The vast majority of its sites have some rich-media content on them but, contrary to its image, only 30 percent of its subscriber base is drawn from the media and entertainment industry, said Neer. "Most of our customers are small to medium-sized businesses."

On the other hand, its subscriber list also features global media conglomerates like Rupert Murdoch's Fox, which has bought "several thousand" dot-tv sites covering its TV shows and characters, Neer said.

In Australia to attend this week's Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) conference in Melbourne, DotTV executives are also attempting to stitch together partnerships with Australian registry companies. The company believes it can sign up another 600,000 subscribers this year.

In the past year, 10 percent of its customer base has been drawn from Asia, led by Japan and South Korea.

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