Money's Tight, Times Are Hard - and Online Dating Services Are Flourishing

Cape Times (South Africa), December 16, 2008 | Go to article overview

Money's Tight, Times Are Hard - and Online Dating Services Are Flourishing


BYLINE: Sarah Butler

london: There's nothing, so it seems, like a global financial disaster for bringing people together. Membership is booming at internet dating sites as the credit crunch and impending recession bring a rush to find a partner to share the pain.

Companies such as Match.com and EasyDate, which owns the SpeedDater, DatetheUK and BeNaughty brands, say they have seen some of their best days of trading since the collapse of Lehman Brothers led to global financial turmoil in September.

Match says it has experienced its 10 biggest days in visitor numbers in the past year, three of them have been in the past few months.

"There is clearly an appetite in this financial climate," says Jason Stockwood, managing director of Match's British and European sites, which include own-label services for MSN and Yahoo.

"It is important in these difficult times for people to be sharing the burden with someone."

Match, owned by IAC - the American internet behemoth that is also behind search engine Ask.com - says part of its recent success in the United Kingdom has been because of doubling investment in television and online advertising.

Match hopes to capitalise on its larger scale as it tries to win market share from rival DatingDirect.

Other sites are also registering an uptick in daters.

Sean Wood, marketing manager of smaller British competitor EasyDate, says its sites have seen growth of 10% above average since the beginning of September.

"Our view is that it seems to be a cheaper alternative to going out to meet people. Monthly membership of an online dating site is about [pounds sterling]20 and you could spend that in an hour in a club."

Katie Mowe is managing director of DatingDirect, one of the UK's biggest sites and owned by French-listed dating specialist Meetic, which runs services in Europe, Latin America and China.

Its sites hit five-million registered users five weeks ago, at the height of concerns for the UK economy, Mowe says.

There was a 28% increase in UK subscribers between January and the end of September, according to the company's latest stock market filing.

"There is also increasing acceptance of online dating, so it is hard to tell whether it is the credit crunch or a rise in dating," Mowe says.

Friday and Saturday night registrations have increased in the past few months, suggesting that people are staying in and looking for dates online rather than heading out to pubs and clubs, she says.

The latest figures from market research service Nielsen Online show an 18% rise from September to October in the number of unique users visiting dating sites, although this followed a 14% drop in August. …

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