In Russia with love

By bne IntelliNews July 13, 2007

Dominic Swire in Prague -

Six months after Bob, an electrician from Montana in the US, met Russian bride Marina Salivan through the dating site they were married. In their testimonial on the website, Marina explains that Bob, 45, was attracted to Russia because the beauty of the girls from there is world-renowned.

Bob and Marina are among a growing number of couples who have met via Russian dating websites. But whereas in the past many Russian dating agencies were geared toward pairing Russian girls with foreign husbands, these days an increasing number of Russians are using them to find love in their own country.

In a market experiencing huge growth, dating sites are the single biggest revenue generators on the web in Russia, surpassing even gaming and music and video sites. And those with money to invest in the sector have started to notice.

Love and money

In March, RosBusinessConsulting (RBC), a leading Moscow-based media company, announced it had bought a controlling stake in, one of the two most popular Russian online dating services. Established 18 months ago, boasts 5m registered users and is linked on more than 2,000 partner sites. In addition to traditional dating services, the site offers a wide range of other services, including personal messages, games, diaries and quizzes.

Commenting on the deal, Mikhail Gurevich, general director of RBC subsidiary Media Mir, said: "With the audience of the Russian internet seeing constant growth, we expect the number of visitors to dating websites to further increase. A wider range of services and features offered on these resources will make online dating even more popular."

The move is part of RBC's $120m expansion of internet services in Russia and the rest of Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to dating sites, the company plans to put money into gaming and entertainment sites, blogs, and media-sharing sites. RBC aims to reach an internet audience of 50m individual users a month and 10m users a day in CEE by 2009, which the management expects will lead to annual revenues of $70m-100m.

According to iKS Consulting, which monitors the Russian digital content market, revenues of online dating services in Russia quadrupled to $34m last year, almost half of the $73m that the internet market generated as a whole, making it the single biggest revenue generator. The second largest sector was online gaming, with $30m, then music and video with $9m.

Elena Krylova, an analyst at iKS, says Russian online dating services are becoming more popular partly because the growing size of Russian cities makes it harder for people to find each other. "The problem for large cities is the loneliness of people. Due to the era of the internet, more and more consumers are using this as a main tool for communication. The online dating services are becoming more and more popular due to the convenience of quick responses, the ability to see images, anonymity, etc. The growing number of internet users pushes the popularity of this service further," she says.

According to comScore Networks, which measures internet use around the world, Russia has 12.7m internet users, a 21% increase from its 10.5m users in 2006. Only India, at 33%, saw faster growth in internet use over the past year.

While those numbers sound impressive, Russia still has much room for growth. In absolute terms, it has, at most, half as many users as South Korea, France, the UK and Germany, and a quarter as many as Japan.

With an increasingly wealthy population of around 140m, Russia must look as tempting to internet service providers as its natural gas fields do to multinational energy companies.

According to Robert Farish, regional director for Russia and CIS at telecommunications consultants IDC, one of the main reasons for this is the growing accessibility of broadband connection in Russia, the price of which has dropped over the last few years to a level comparable with dial-up. "There has been a real sea change in internet usage as the number of broadband connections doubled in 2006. That's a very, very steep rate of growth," says Farish said.

If internet dating in Russia really does take off, it could help soothe one of President Vladimir Putin's headaches: a shrinking population.

Send comments to The Editor

Related Articles

Drum rolls in the great disappearing act of Russia's banks

Jason Corcoran in Moscow - Russian banks are disappearing at the fastest rate ever as the country's deepening recession makes it easier for the central bank to expose money laundering, dodgy lending ... more

Kremlin: No evidence in Olympic doping allegations against Russia

bne IntelliNews - The Kremlin supported by national sports authorities has brushed aside "groundless" allegations of a mass doping scam involving Russian athletes after the World Anti-Doping Agency ... more

PROFILE: Day of reckoning comes for eccentric owner of Russian bank Uralsib

Jason Corcoran in Moscow - Revelations and mysticism may have been the stock-in-trade of Nikolai Tsvetkov’s management style, but ultimately they didn’t help him to hold on to his ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or 12 months full access inc. Magazine and Weekly Newspaper for just $119/year.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

Thank you for purchasing a bne IntelliNews subscription. We look forward to serving you as one of our paid subscribers. An email confirmation will be sent to the email address you have provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. The confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.