Online Dating Still Popular, Profitable Many Web enterprises are feeling the pain of the recession, but for the most part, dating sites are doing well. James Houran, columnist for Online Dating Magazine, talks about the economics of the matchmaking business.
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Online Dating Still Popular, Profitable

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Online Dating Still Popular, Profitable

Online Dating Still Popular, Profitable

Online Dating Still Popular, Profitable

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/101944928/101944896" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Many Web enterprises are feeling the pain of the recession, but for the most part, dating sites are doing well. James Houran, columnist for Online Dating Magazine, talks about the economics of the matchmaking business.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

During the recession of the early 1980s, people wanted their MTV. Now, they want their Match.com, their eHarmony...

(Soundbite of song "Addicted to Love")

Mr. ROBERT PALMER: (Singing) Gonna have to face it You're addicted to loveā€¦

BRAND: Online dating is doing really well in this recession. For our final installment of the series Dispatches from the Downturn, we're joined by James Houran. He wrote a column about the economics of online dating for Online Dating Magazine. So, first of all, I had no idea there was magazine called Online Dating. So, congratulations for finding your niche. And tell us why is online dating doing so well.

Mr. JAMES HOURAN (Columnist, Online Dating Magazine): You know, as a psychologist, I talked to actual customers, actual daters, as well as observe the trends. And it's doing really well right now for many different reasons. The first is, we've just come out of holiday season, which is historically a very good time for the industry.

BRAND: Why is that?

Mr. HOURAN: Well, people are now starting to go and see family. They get all sorts of questions like gee, why aren't you married yet? Who's your significant other? You're just reminded of the priorities in your life. And that leads me to my next point and that is, during recession, people are now even more motivated to take stock in their lives and rethink what their priorities are. And oftentimes, people want to have a partner to help them cope and endure with the hardship and the crisis, especially crisis brought on by things like economic downturn. Now also, during times like this, individuals, they tend to also use online dating as a coping mechanism. Online dating is a hybrid of both entertainment as well as an outlet to promote happiness and mental wellness. So, we start seeing that online dating companies are doing quite well like other types of, oh, industries that fit that same hybrid of entertainment and mental wellness and overall happiness.

BRAND: So wait a minute. So you're saying that people who are going home to a lonely apartment are going online just to find someone to talk to while they're trying to find a date?

Mr. HOURAN: Well, sometimes. In fact, the prospect of going online to talk someone to get a date can be quite exciting. It's a form of entertainment that fits people's schedules, now that they're having to work more or work more than one job. It fits their schedules, it fits their budget. It also fits their agenda, whether it's for escapism and fantasy or whether it's for them, again, to try to find a partner to help them cope with the economic crisis, help them fill something that they didn't realize what's really missing in their life.

BRAND: You mentioned the expense, and it can be kind of expensive to join an online dating site. Why not just, you know, get out of your house and go to your local bar or your local community center if you don't want to drink, and meet someone there, in the flesh?

Mr. HOURAN: Well, that's an option as well. Sometimes, people get tired, though, of the local watering hole. Or they're trying to conserve gas, or they don't really want to be drinking or at least spend the money for those ancillary types of things. You know, online dating, of course, it can be expensive relatively speaking if people are on an extremely tight budget. But really, how much money are people spending on lattes or muffins or anything else just during the day? That adds up probably more than what they're spending or could spend on online dating in just one month.

BRAND: So it's doing really well in this economy, is what you're saying.

Mr. HOURAN: It's doing very well. It would've been doing well anyway just because of the holiday but because of these other factors, we tend to believe that that's what really boosting it at this time.

BRAND: James Houran is a columnist for Online Dating Magazine. Thanks a lot.

Mr. HOURAN: My pleasure. Have a great day.

BRAND: You too.

There's more coming up on Day to Day in a moment.

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