After rejecting recent opportunities to buy online jobs site Seek and
classified advertising group Trading Post, the up-market Fairfax
newspaper publisher today splurged $39 million to buy … an online
dating agency.

As this Bloomberg report confirms, Fairfax is buying the privately-owned dating service RSVP.com.au, which
was founded on Valentine’s Day in 1997 and has about 600,000
members. According to the proud owner today, “the service, whose
customers are 58% male, has led to more than 890 weddings and 137
babies.”

And in this report
on its own site, Fairfax group executive Alan Revell justified the
acquisition by saying that online dating has “become a mainstream
classifieds market, just like jobs, houses and cars.” Revell added that
“an important factor to us is that the RSVP demographic is similar to
the strong AB reach that we enjoy today with our metro mastheads.” The
market growth, he said, “has been driven by the increasing social
acceptability of time-poor singles looking for better ways to meet
people.”

Here’s some background on the burgeoning online dating game in Australia, and internationally.

CRIKEY:
Now we know the secret weapon in the Fairfax corporate strategy. So how
long will it be before we can expect Alan Ramsey columns on
“Relationships in Hothouse Canberra,” Ross Gittins analysis of “The
Real Cost of Saying Goodbye,” or Paul Sheehan on “The Dating Secrets of
Crazed Terrorist Lefties.” Is this what a once-great newspaper
publisher in Australia has come to?

Peter Fray

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