Speed Reads

the dot-tv economy

This tiny South Pacific nation owns one of the most lucrative internet suffixes in the world

This week, Amazon purchased Twitch — a company that live-streams people playing video games as if they were sports — for $1.1 billion, training a spolight not only on the lucrative world of online gaming, but on web-streaming services like Twitch that use .tv as an internet suffix.

Because of a wrinkle in internet history, that suffix is owned by Tuvalu, a South Pacific island nation whose total land mass is about 10 square miles. The New York Times explains:

The sudden prominence of .tv is the latest twist in one of the Internet’s more unusual tales. In the 1990s, the suffix .tv was assigned to Tuvalu (Britain received .uk; France, .fr; and so on). At the height of the Internet gold rush, in 1999, a start-up named DotTV paid Tuvalu $50 million over 12 years for the right to sell .tv to other companies. The .tv suffix represented two of the most recognizable letters in the world, and DotTV’s founders believed .tv could be bigger than .com because TV viewing would soon migrate to the web. [The New York Times]

The current operator of .tv is the company Verisign, which reportedly pays Tuvalu a couple million dollars a year in fees.