Dating Apps Are Squeezing a Dwindling User Base

Holding the line against advertising has forced companies to extract more fees out of the remaining subscribers.

Photo of Tinder app open on iPhone
Photo by Good Faces Agency via Unsplash

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

What’s love got to do with it – apps, that is?

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that dating apps owned by conglomerate Match Group — which counts Tinder and Hinge among its digital-matchmaker lineup — have hiked their subscription fees over the past year as well as introducing new tiers. This is in response to growth becoming steadily more lethargic.

Money Can Buy You Love

As dating apps left the tech-startup larval stage of being free, they resisted the urge to introduce advertising as a revenue stream and instead layered in subscription models with premium features. But relying on one source of revenue can be risky and dating apps are relying on subscriptions — subscriptions which users experiencing a cost-of-living crisis are quick to sever.

With user growth slowing down, Match Group has had to mine the romantic hopefuls still on its apps more than ever:

  • Data from Sensor Tower showed 2022 represented a four-year low for dating app downloads, per the FT. Tinder’s user base specifically dropped 6% year-on-year in Q3 of 2023.
  • While the user base has shrunk, Tinder has made each remaining lonely heart count for more. In the three months leading up to September 2023, Tinder’s overall revenue rose 10% year-on-year.

It’ll All End in Tiers: On top of eye-watering subscriptions to join the Tinderati, some of Match Group’s apps have tapped into the Netflix method of stratifying their subscription models. Hinge, which markets itself as Tinder’s more thoughtful cousin, has offers that range from £2.91 ($3.69)  to £24.99 ($31.72) a week in its UK app, per the FT. The lower levels essentially unlock minor features, some of which were previously simply a part of the free app, like unlimited likes on other people’s profiles. Some however are newer innovations, such as a feature that lets you filter profiles by height. Please join us in saying a little prayer for short kings.