9 million Brits finding love and sex online in booming dating market
UK is leading the way in the "march of the daters" as more than 9 million people from Britain are logging on to find love and sex, it has been revealed.
The value of the UK online dating market jumped 6 percent to almost 170 million pounds last year as a growing number of singletons turned to the internet rather than speed dating nights or their local pub to meet Mr or Miss Right.
"In the UK there is a longer tradition of using online dating and people are willing to spend more," the Guardian quoted Metaflake's chief executive Henning Wiechers, who said the trend towards meeting partners online was most successful in secular, well-to-do countries, as saying.
The big increase was attributed to aggressive advertising by rival dating sites.
The internet dating boom began in 2000, when around 100,000 early adopters braved a dial-up internet connection to find a partner.
According to the Metaflake study, that figure is now 9.1 million with two-thirds using mainstream dating sites like Match and eHarmony, while 2.8 million pursue "erotic encounters" on websites like Shagaholic and Sexintheuk.
Not only did the UK have the highest concentration of single people in the pan-European study but it was also judged to have the "most colourful dating landscape" due to the volume of themed singles dating sites, ranging from Cougar Dating to Uniform Dating, to those catering for religious groups or body-type preferences.
Of Europe's 5,000 dating portals, roughly 1,500 emanate from the UK. The five biggest players in Europe are Friendfinder, Match owner Meetic, Badoo, C-Date and eDarling. Match is the UK market leader.
"The British are very open-minded," Wiechers said.
"Germans [the second largest market] are much shyer," he said.
Wiechers believes the UK online dating market will have expanded by another 5 percent in 2012 but said it was tough for companies to make money due to the crowded marketplace.
"The UK is a very competitive market and companies have to reinvest all their earnings into advertising to fight for their market position," he added,
The Metaflake study estimates that today around 30 percent of new relationships arise from the internet, but also added that a hefty health warning for romantics.
It estimates that 25 percent of those combing the web for a new partner, "particularly men", are already in a relationship.