Patti Stanger of "The Millionaire Matchmaker" on Bravo Network Television poses in Marina Del Rey, Calif. / Robert Hanashiro USA TODAY
Online dating site Match.com is going old school as it pairs with a matchmaking service to capture a dating demographic that wants more attention and is willing to pay for it.
Dallas-based Match.com and Three Day Rule, a personalized matchmaking service based in Los Angeles, will announce on Tuesday a partnership that gets Match into high-dollar matchmaking terrain while giving Three Day Rule money to expand and direct marketing to Match members.
The deal makes Match the second traditional dating site this year to target a segment of daters either disillusioned with online dating or who want to be more discreet. The site eHarmony launched eH+ with its own matchmakers in January.
"They've got very significant market shares. Between them, they own the industry, and where do they go from there?" dating industry analyst Mark Brooks says. "They have two problems - a limited number of people left to reach and a limited price point."
Matchmaking has exploded in the past few years. Reality TV series such as Bravo's The Millionaire Matchmaker and other copycats have targeted the professional who has plenty of money but not enough time to hunt for a relationship. Matchmakers offer personalized service at a cost.
Traditional dating sites, which have millions of daters, haven't tried to reach this profitable market until now. One month as a Match member costs about $35; at eHarmony, it's $59.95. Matchmaking service costs for both are in the thousands. Match.com gets a cut from each customer at Three Day Rule, says Sam Yagan, CEO of the Match Group, which oversees Match.com
Three Day Rule founder Talia Goldstein says Match approached her company last fall. Three Day Rule - whose handful of matchmakers serve New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco - plans to add more matchmakers and the cities of Dallas, Boston and Washington by the end of the year.
It offers three months of matchmaking for $3,500 or six months for $5,000, which also includes date coaching and a photo session and stylist.
Janis Spindel, a New York City matchmaker for more than 20 years, says this latest move doesn't mean these websites can offer the same kind of expertise. For her, that includes criminal background checks, credit checks, matching cultural upbringing and psychological testing if needed.
"I personally meet everyone I match. For every client, I'm with them 2-3 days, if not a week, at their homes learning about them," she says. "Every woman I match has been interviewed by me."
Such attention isn't cheap. Her fees range from $50,000 to $500,000.
Neil Clark Warren, eHarmony's founder, says his Santa Monica, Calif.-based company's launch of eH+ offers one matchmaking package at $5,000 a year. He declined to give details about those who have tried the matchmaking services, but he says the three matchmakers on staff are "Ph.D-level psychologists or marriage and family therapists."
Three Day Rule's matchmakers have worked as executives at a variety of businesses and left "lucrative jobs" to help others find love, Goldstein says.
"None of us were matchmakers or had gone to matchmaking school, but we were all very educated people doing this ... with friends and family," says Goldstein, a former TV producer who launched her service in 2010.
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