Domain Name Registrar Challenge: First Round of the South Region

Domain Name Registrar Challenge South Region, fictionally hosted in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  And I say why not Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide football team.  There will be blood in water, as the number one over-all seed GoDaddy gets set to take on the rest.  This region also contains some big names in the industry like Ionos and Enom.  However, there are some underdogs making some noise in the bracket, such as InternetBS and NameSilo, to name two.

To see how the seeding was done based on data collected by yours truly, check out the article that introduced 2020 Best Domain Registrar Challenge.  You can just cut to the chase and view the bracket in the webpage or download the PDF of the bracket if you wish.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of these registrars.  All of these notes are my opinions.  My opinions were based upon observations of services as provided on the registrar website.

More first round regional break downs: East Region, Midwest Region, West Region , View Updated Bracket

Domain Name Registrar Challenge


(1) vs (16)

Dominion is a niche registrar that only offers registrations for the following TLDs: .Autos, .Homes, .Boats, .Yachts, .Motorcycles.  However, Godaddy only offers registration in two of those TLDs, .Autos and .Boats.  Moreover, Dominion offers gSuite, which GoDaddy fails to offer.  As a final trump card, dominion offers social media setup and optimization.  Like the little engine that could, Dominion goes out swinging while using the gTLD .domains.

These are all unique services and TLDs that differentiate Dominion from other registrars.  However, these are not services that specifically target domain investors.  More unfortunately, Dominion must face the monolith that is GoDaddy.  GoDaddy caters more specifically to domain investors via their expired auctions and domain marketplace, not to mention afternic integration, which really differentiates GoDaddy amongst domainers.

GoDaddy cleared the bench early in a route of this relative unknown Dominion.  Powered by their all-american forward Expired Domain-Auctions.  GoDaddy overwhelms Dominion from start to finish.  Until 2018, a sixteen seed had never beaten a one seed in the NCAA tournament – GoDaddy is not Virginia and will not lose to a lesser opponent this day.

Final Score: GoDaddy 98, Dominion.Domains 59

(2) vs (15)

Established in 1988, Ionos is the largest hosting company in Europe, targeting hosting solutions for small and medium sized businesses.  With 6 million+ domains registered on 424 TLDs, Ionos is a major player in the domain registrar business.  Offering $1 domain name registrations for the first year, their pricing is very competitive.  However, Ionos does lack some of the tools that domain investors desire, since they don’t have a market place or auction platform.

NetZone, based out of Switzerland, uses the country code TLD, as is common in Europe.  With less than 6,000 domains registered and offering only a handful of TLDs, this registrar is a boutique registrar.  However, they’ve a proven business, offering domain registration and related services like hosting, email and security integrations since 1997.

Although not a pushover, Ionos is able to pull away in the second half, winning this one in convincing fashion.

Final Score: Ionos: 76, Netzone 56

(3) vs (14)

ENOM appears to be a low three seed in my opinion, perhaps getting some favorable bumps by the bracketologist.  With less than 200K domain names registered, they’re not pulling in the sheer numbers of the other big boys, in spite of offering registrations on 430 TLDS.  However, ENOM does offer integration with both SEDO and Afternic right out of the gate, making it a desireable platform for domainers.  They also offer pre-registration of domain names for new gTLDs.  Although not easily the cheapest, their prices do seem in the competitive range.  These features easily allow them to rise up, and I can see what they bracket makers were seeing.

InternetBS looks like a very strong 14 seed, branding themselves as “Built for Domain Investors”.   They offer some good incentives like free privacy, url forwarding, and email forwarding – included in the price of domain registration.  They also have tossed their hat into the blockchain name arena, which allows you to register .eth domain names.  More, they recently released their domain checker, which is “designed to help check availability in bulk, generate larger volumes of suggestions for great domain names, and generally help with domain name research.”  Unfortunately, they currently do not offer a marketplace or any integrations related with selling domain names.

The challenge between these two registrars was billed as a possible upset and it lived up to expectations.  I’ve heard from many domain investors who really like internetBS (bonus points for using the .net TLD).  However, ENOM wins on a last minute tip in thanks to the combined power of Afternic and Sedo integration.

Final Score: ENOM 104, InternetBS 102

(4) vs (13)

BigRock is owned by Endurance International (which also runs bluehost, hostgator, and several other domain registrars, including dotster).  BigRock surely knows their not one of the big boys but relies on the power of sheer numbers to help them – namely, the number of domain names that actually redirect to  This author counted at least 6 domains that redirected to BigRock, which perhaps has alloweed them to quietly amass nearly 400,000 domain names registered on 161 TLDs.  BigRock offers above-average deals on their domain registrations, but nothing truly eye-popping.  Although their marketing team and sleek user interface design has done a great job at presenting their available options, they do not offer a marketplace or anything that differentiates them from competitors.  Some freebies they offer with domain registrations: free 100mb email account and domain forwarding.  They do not list privacy as an option on their website.

Dreamhost is the first underdog in this tournament that has more domains registered than their higher seeded opponent, with more than 700,000 domain names.  On their website, they state they work with 400+ TLDs, which is far more than what appears to be offered at BigRock.  Dreamhost does offer free privacy protection, which is a nice feature for domainers who wish to have this feature.  More, DreamHost first year of .com registration is currently a almost 50% cheaper than the same at BigRock.

This challenge was a tight one, and in the first upset of the tournament, DreamHost pulls out the W after getting through the intimidation factor of playing a 4 seed.

Final Score: DreamHost 65, BigRock 59

(5) vs (12)

OpenProvider comes into the matchup with nearly a quarter-million domains registered in the platform.  Based out of The Netherlands, this registrar offers registrations with 1300 “new and exotic”  TLDs since 2004.  More, OpenProvider is the first registrar I noticed claiming to offer domain name registrations at cost, however it looks like you must be a member to enjoy those benefits.  One feature I really like is that the have a tab dedicated to promotions, which advertise some of their best prices on domains.  Moreover, they offer availability of new TLDs at sunrise.

Although a twelve seed, BuyDomains has been around since 1999, with more than 360K domain names registered.  Based on their website, they offer about 20 TLDs, which is much less than their challenger.  It appears to this author as if they’re marketing to business and individuals who want to add websites and supporting services to their domains; in short, they don’t appear to offer services that cater to domain investors, outside of domain name registration.

In March, there are a lot of upsets in the 5 vs 12 matchup, but not today.  OpenProvider was able to take care of business thanks to “strong fundamentals” of marketing to investors via their membership club.

Final Score: OpenProvider 62, BuyDomain 49

(6) vs (11) appears to be the sort of throw-back domain registrar that domain investors love, residing on the gTLD .net since 1999.  However, they just don’t have the sheer numbers that some of the blue-bloods have in this region, with just over 100K domain names actively registered.  This medium-sized registrar, with between 51 to 100 employees features three physical offices located throughout Europe.  They offer registration in over 750 TLDs, and include two email inboxes with each domain registered.  They also offer discounts to registered users based on the amount of money spent on registrations, which may appeal to some domain investors.  The discounted tiers start at $6,000.  They also offer free ssl and privacy with each registration.  They also have bulk searching available as well.

eleventh seeded PorkBun has only been around since 2014, and seem to have carved out a niche that may appeal to those interested in great website design.  Porkbun offers robust bulk searching and extremely competitive registration costs (currently less than $4 for .com name).  For the cost of a registration, you get free Privacy, Email and URL Forwarding and an SSL Certificate.  Pricing and a very nice user interface design appear to be the strong points of PorkBun.

Although Gandi strikes me as the kind of registrar that domainers love, I think the pricing and layout of Porkbun ultimately overcome some of the underwhelming (but well advertised) features of Gandi.

Final Score: PorkBun 97, Gandi 88

(7) vs (10)

NameSilo brands themselves as cheap, easy and secure – and quite frankly, those are great selling points.  Digging deeper, we can see that NameSilo has more than 3 million domains registered, supporting ~400 TLDs.  Just like the number one overall seed GoDaddy, NameSilo is based out of Arizona.  They offer bulk discounts when you buy 50+ domains (but that’s not clear to me if you have to buy them all at once or if that’s a tallied total), and free privacy with registrations.  They do offer some bulk searching tools, but the simplicity of their website is something I really like.  However, it’s not clear right away what is included in the purchase, which typically indicates there are hidden fees once you get to the final check out page. ( have been around since 1987, so they’re old players in the domain name world.  However, with just over 300K domains registered, they’re roughly 10% the size of their challenger, based on that number alone.  Included with the cost of registration include a free 1 page website and 3 months of free email.  To be honest, I don’t think either of those things would excite many domain investors.  They do offer a plethora of TLDs. like their challenger, but at this writing, appear to be slightly higher registration fees.  There is no mention of privacy on their website, though I assume this can be added with an additional charge at checkout (since it’s not listed as a freebie).

Rebel really walked into a hornets nest on this one. NameSilo could’ve been a much higher seed, and clearly they’re out to prove a point, with break-away dunks leading the way to dominant performance.  All of this leveraged by more robust offerings (targeting domain investors).

Final Score: NameSilo 110, Rebel 71

(8) vs (9)

HostGator is more famously known for their hosting plans, however with nearly 800,000 domains registered, they cannot be dismissed as a registrar that could be valuable to the domain investor.  According to their website, they only offer registrations of 15 TLDs (.com, .website, .info, .club, .org, .host, .co, .net, .online, .space, .me, .site, .us, .biz, and .tech).  I appreciate how their upfront on pricing, displaying the cost to register a domain on the registration page.  They’re also upfront that they do charge for additional services like privacy.

123 Reg is a registrar out of the UK and founded in 2000 with more than 800K domain names registered themselves.  They offer at least 56 TLDs and also display upfront pricing on each of those.  123 Reg also offers free privacy to customers, and a renewal guarantee for your domain (even if the renewal fails for some reason).

The 8 vs 9 matchup is typically highly contested.  Although the score was tied 48-48 at halftime, 123 Reg was able to pull away in the second half to win.  Powered by free privacy and superior TLD offerings.

Final Score: 123 Reg 68, HostGator 61

That wraps up the Domain Name Registrar Challenge South Region.  GoDaddy, Ionos, Enom, DreamHost, OpenProvider, PorkBun, NameSilo and 123Reg will advance to the round of 32.  Be sure to check out the updated bracket here.

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