ABC NIGHTLINE -- Mar 25 -- Love connection, there are more the 15 million fish in the Match.com sea and they’re all looking for that special someone. We go behind the scenes at the mega matchmaker to see why looking for love has exploded in these tough times.
Matchmaking is no longer just blind dates or blind luck, its big business. In 2006, the latest year for which a figure is available it had grown into an estimated $250 million industry online and there may be no better example than Match.com, cyber matchmaker for more than 15 million people globally. And as the saying goes misery loves company.
So in these tough economic times perhaps it’s no surprise that business is booming. Ryan Owens has the report.
There’s that couple in love. You know the one; they act like there is no one else in the room, no one else in the world that all that cheesy music is just for them.
Trey Boswell and Cindy Brown of Dallas may look like that couple but they didn’t take that traditional road to romance.
Trey: Got a wink from her, got an email from her.
They found love online and they say on a budget on the dating website Match.com.
Trey: It’s just a smarter, a more financially efficient way of meeting that right person.
Ryan: When you tell people how you met him and how…
Ryan: How quickly things have progressed what do they say to you?
Cindy: First thing is, oh my gosh, really? How long have you known him? Once they’ve met him I’ll typically get a text message, an email or a phone call, so can you help me write my profile?
It turns out a lot of people are writing their profiles. At a time when so many businesses need a bail out, online dating services have never been busier. Match.com boasts a whopping 15 million members worldwide with 20,000 new people signing up every day at $34.99 a month.
Mandy: The business here is hopping. We’re up 20% this year which is double the increase we had over January last year.
Mandy Ginsberg runs Match.com’s American operation from its corporate headquarters in Dallas. An office that looks half bordello chic as one employee described it and half Silicon Valley.
Ryan: Okay so this looks like the space station here. What is it?
Mandy: Its command central. So we’re constantly monitoring site activity, making sure that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that the site is active.
They keep what they call success walls around the office – wedding pictures, engagement shots of the clients they’ve brought together in cyberspace. Our couple in love isn’t there just yet but each is at least relieved to have a partner to ride out the recession with.
Trey sells grand pianos and as he says they aren’t exactly walking out of the showroom these days. Cindy is a corporate recruiter and her base salary was slashed a few months ago since no one is hiring, she’s not making much.
Trey: People need each other even more when everyone is reading the headlines every day and it’s dismal.
Cindy: It allows you to get back into basics of traditional dating where you have to be creative and actually think of some innovate ways to date on a dime.
Ryan: Do you guys do that?
Cindy: We have!
It may sound a little corny but it’s working and not just for Match. Rival e-Harmony.com is also seeing double digit gains. And no surprise here, free dating websites and there are countless of those, are doing even better.
PlentyOfFish.com is the busiest and it brags of a remarkable 2 billion page views a month.
Mandy: People truly want to be optimistic and find someone to weather the economic storm with.
Mandy Ginsberg says that Match.com sees especially high traffic on the days when the Dow Jones Industrial average is way down.
Mandy: People aren’t going out and they’re not spending as much money at restaurants and at bars, they are spending a lot of time online.
Karen: So I was one of those girls who used to complain and say that I was miserable because I wasn’t meeting anybody.
Karen Sullivan is a New York City ad executive who is looking for love online. We’ll let her tell you the rest courtesy of her Match.com profile.
Karen: 38, I’m single, I’m a vegetarian, I have a cat but I’m not a lesbian. So just, you know, I try to make it a little bit funny.
She’s been looking since September.
Karen: What am I looking for? Definitely sense of humor is big. I would prefer to be with somebody that has a job but in this economy I don’t know how selective you can be.
Speaking of, Karen recently had to take on a second job to support herself. She doesn’t have much time now to date the old fashioned way and actually finds the modern alternative oddly empowering.
Karen: You take a step back when you’re going through a hardship and realize what might be missing. And the nice thing about online dating is you can empower yourself and you can do something to change your situation. You don’t have a right to complain anymore. You know if you’re still single and you’re not out dating I don’t want to hear it. If anybody complains to me I’m like well go online, I don’t want to hear it. You know I don’t want to hear it.
Back to our couple enjoying that cheesy music, they have been together now for 3 months. So I had to ask…
Ryan: What do you guys think may be in your future as a couple?
Cindy: Is that your phone ringing? Go get it quick.
Trey: Check please. You know what? I think our future right now is as bright as it can get. We’ve known each other for 3 months; we’re both mature enough and experienced enough to know you don’t make any type of long term decisions after knowing somebody for 3 months.
Ryan: Especially during a television interview.
Trey: Especially during a television interview. But I think we both know that we’re off to an awesome start and I think we’re both pretty excited about it.
Cindy: Yeah its fun. Meeting somebody that was the objective, where it goes from there who knows. But so far so good, he’s a keeper.
A good start considering online dating just like the old kind does not come with a guarantee of success, except it seems if you happen to own one of those websites.
I’m Ryan Owens for Nightline in Dallas.