Match.com Pursues UK Plans With MSN Deal

Online dating site Match.com, a division of USA Interactive’s Ticketmaster, is furthering its plans for expansion in the United Kingdom through the renewal of a distribution pact with MSN.co.uk.

The agreement — financial details of which were not disclosed — calls for Match.com to continue providing personal ads and content on MSN.co.uk’s “Love” channel through May 2004. The previous agreement was forged in February 2001, and the relationship began when MSN parent Microsoft sold its Sidewalk division to Match.com sister company Citysearch in 1999, taking a stake in Los Angeles-based Ticketmaster in the process.

The new agreement calls for the Match.com service to be promoted on the front page of MSN.co.uk and on MSN Hotmail and MSN Messenger. The UK version of Microsoft’s portal attracts around 12.2 million unique users a month, according to comScore Media Metrix’ April 2002 numbers.

“Our relationship with MSN.co.uk has been instrumental to our growth in the UK, and MSN.co.uk will play an important role in expanding our reach and awareness because of the sheer volume and high quality of its user base,” said Joe Cohen, vice president and general manager of Match.com International.

MSN has become key to Match.com’s global expansion strategy. Through the March acquisition of Soulmates Technology, Match.com inherited distribution deals with MSN in 25 different countries, as well as the ability to deliver personals in 18 languages and 32 currencies. Match.com officials have said they expect Match.com itself to establish a presence in approximately 25 countries by the end of 2002. The UK renewal comes on the heels of Match.com’s distribution agreement with BlackAmericaWeb.com, an alliance aimed at bringing aboard more African-American customers. The company also recently struck a deal with InfoSpace, which has Match.com listings appearing on the InfoSpace site and its affiliates.

Personal ads have been one of the rare bright spots on the gloomy Internet business scene. A recent comScore/Online Publishers Association study found that Americans spent $72 million on online personals in 2001. Among paid content sites, Match.com ranked third in terms of revenue brought in, according to the study.

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