Google is dipping into its bag of dormant gTLDs again, planning to start selling a shopping-themed string next week, apparently having abandoned plans to use it as an exclusively YouTube-related space.
The gTLD is .channel, which it applied for 10 years ago as a closed, Google-only gTLD, with this mission statement:
The sole purpose of the proposed gTLD, .channel, is to host select YouTube channels’ digital content. The proposed gTLD will introduce a dedicated Internet space in which select YouTube channel providers can link to the content hosted on their respective YouTube page.
But the company has changed its mind in the intervening decade and the new plan bears little resemblance to the application.
Now, we’re looking at something commerce-themed that at least at first will be sold via hand-picked channel partners. There’s no mention of YouTube in the registry’s new policies, which state:
.channel domain names are intended solely for use by creators and publishers to host or redirect to storefronts featuring digital and physical products, and audience-building mechanisms for the purpose of monetization.
That sounds rather like it’s going up against the likes of .shop, .store and .shopping.
While a weaker string, Google’s brand carries a lot of weight when it comes to new gTLD sales, and it sounds like the company is going to lean into partners for its initial wave of registrants a little like Amazon did with .bot.
The current launch plan submitted to ICANN calls for a year-long Limited Registration Period starting May 2, saying:
prospective registrants may submit an application to register a .channel domain name through an onboarded content creation platform (each, a “Platform”) on which the prospective registrant has an account.
Platforms will review applications and work with Registry Operator to have domains registered to prospective registrants
I’m speculating a bit here, but I’m guessing we’re talking about e-commerce and storefront-creation services, which could include both registrars and non-registrars.
Before the LRP, the company has told ICANN (pdf) that the invitation-only Qualified Launch Period for .channel will begin on March 29 and run to May 2.
This period, where domains may carry a premium fee, gives the registry a chance to build up its base of anchor tenants who can be leveraged to market .channel to a broader customer base.
Trademark owners will want to note that the sunrise period runs from April 5 to May 9. They’ll have to launch a rules-compatible storefront or keep their domains defensively dark.
There’s no word on general availability yet.