U.S. Dating Services Market Worth $2.1 Billion

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Services Held Up Well During The Recession, Says Marketdata

John LaRosa

With only 51% of American adults now married, dating & matchmaking has become big business.

Marketdata Enterprises, a 33-year old market research firm that has tracked the U.S. dating services market since 1998, has just released a new edition of its market study that analyzes ALL dating services—online and off-line: dating websites, matchmakers, dating coaches, brick & mortar franchises and chains, speed dating, personal ads, radio datelines, and singles phone chat lines. This business study covers the market from 1991 to 2015 forecasts, with outlooks and effects of the recession on all market segments.

“Matchmaking and online dating has become big business, with dating services estimated to be worth $2.14 billion in 2011 and forecast to grow 4.7% per year to $2.54 billion by 2015. The industry consists of much more than just dating websites, although these get the bulk of the media attention and account for 53% of the industry’s revenues. The last recession actually helped this business, as America’s 100+ million singles looked for economic and emotional support in these tumultuous times..”, according to Research Director, John LaRosa.

Major Findings:

  • Market Value… Marketdata estimates that the total U.S. dating services market contracted by 2.9% in 2009, as the recession took hold. The market grew by just 2% in 2010 and 4.2% in 2011. To 2015, we forecast 4.7% annual growth to $2.54 billion. At $1.33 billion, the dating websites captured 53% of total revenues. Leaders include IAC’s Match.com with $480 million, eHarmony with $270 million, and FriendFinder Networks with $233 million.
  • It’s estimated that at least 1,800 independent matchmakers operate in the United States (grossing about $200,000/year each). Their numbers are rising, as this is an easy business to enter (no license needed), with little investment capital and a profit margin as high as 76% of sales. Most operate solo, in one city, but the matchmakers that make $1+ million will travel nationwide and internationally for clients.
  • There are approximately 250 physical offices run by “off-line” dating service chains or franchises where one sees the client in person. This includes companies such as eLove (formerly Together & The Right One) with 56 offices, It’s Just Lunch (150), Matchmakers Intl. (13) and Great Expectations (32), as well as speed dating firms. Some of these services typically charge $2,000-6,000 and are able to verify a person’s appearance, weight, age, etc.—an advantage over dating websites. However, Great Expectations has been guilty of deceptive and overly aggressive sales practices and faced recent actions by 3 State Attorneys General offices in WA, WI, and KS, and lots of negative PR—resulting in the closure of 20 offices since 2008.
  • Dating websites: This is a mature market in the and customer satisfaction could be a lot better. “Freemium” is the new model—some enticing basic services free, with an upsell to more advanced, paid subscriptions. Match.com, Yahoo, and eHarmony are hoping clients will trade up to premium memberships and are finding increased competition from free sites like PlentyofFish, Craigslist, and Facebook. Mobile applications, Asia, Brazil, and niche sites are key drivers of future growth. Marketdata expects 7.2% annual growth to $1.76 billion by 2015. The large players continue to acquire smaller competitors.
  •     Matchmakers are not very marketing or Internet savvy but do very well, usually earning $50,000-200,000/year. Top names make millions. This is a $293 million market, expected to grow 6-7% per year to $352 million, as new matchmakers enter the business There is even an organization in New York City that certifies and trains new matchmakers.
  •     Support staff and ancillary services are important and include: dating coaches, background checking services, image makeover consultants, wardrobe experts, photographers, psychologists, and therapists. Some dating coaches make $500,000/year.
  •     Phone chat lines for singles, a mature $350 million segment dominated by Teligence and Quest Personals, primarily serves a young market. Competitors say that this is still a very viable market, allowing people to connect with real people via phone--more personal and engaging than viewing inaccurate online profiles.

“ The Dating services business is a fragmented one, populated by small, privately owned and entrepreneurial companies. There is no unifying trade association to police ethics and marketing practices. Some services are free, while others cost up to $250,000 (elite matchmakers). It’s still ‘let the buyer beware’. The Internet and dating reality TV shows (The Millionaire Matchmaker, The Bachelor, others) have brought these services into the mainstream and taken the stigma out of the profession. However, consumers are not always happy with results, and state authorities sometimes get involved.”, according to John LaRosa.


The U.S. Dating Services Market, January, 2012, is an independently researched multi-client study that is 280 pages long, contains dozens of company profiles, 65 Tables, and costs $1,895. It’s also sold by individual chapters. Study covers: how services operate, revenues/profits, market segments, effects of the recession, $ mkt. size 1991-2015F, image problems, singles demographics, outlooks by consultants and Wall St. analysts, matchmaker surveys, ranks of top dating websites, niches, ethical issues, technology, and more. Free brochure available. A 32 pp. Overview summary is available to the public for $79.


Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., is a 33-year old independent market research firm that publishes market and industry studies covering a wide range of service businesses. It has tracked the dating services market since 1998. John LaRosa has presented at several annual dating industry conferences and is available for interviews. Contact: Marketdata Enterprises, 8903 Regents Park Drive, Suite 120, Tampa, FL 33647.

Contact Information

John LaRosa,
Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., Tampa, FL
Phone: 813-907-9090
Fax: 813-907-3606


email: john(at)marketdataenterprises(dot)com


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