Match Group, the parent company behind Tinder, posted dramatic revenue growth for its non-Tinder dating apps during its third quarter, showing the potential of emerging brands like Hinge.

Match raked in $639.8 million in revenue, an 18% increase from the same quarter last year, above Wall Street’s estimate of $605.9 million. 

While Tinder led much of the momentum and is expected to deliver $1.4 billion in revenue this year, emerging brands like Hinge also delivered for Match. 

Match’s newer dating apps, including Hinge, a service that markets itself as a means for finding long-term relationships; Japan-based app Pairs; and niche brands such as BLK, Chispa, and Hawaya, reported a dramatic 88% increase in revenue, overshadowing Tinder’s 15% growth year-over-year, according to the Nov. 4 earnings release

“Hinge has been the standout this year,” Gary Swidler, Match’s chief operating officer, said during the company’s conference call on Nov. 5. 

Hinge also reported an 82% surge, year-to-date, in app downloads.    

Still, Match’s earnings of $0.45 per share came in below the predicted $0.46, and declined 13% from the same period last year. The slowdown was due to Match’s international markets in India, South East Asia, and Latin America, which were hit hard by the coronavirus. 

Elsewhere, the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders benefited Match’s dating apps.    

“After months of social distancing and maybe isolation, people are feeling lonely and are looking for their significant other more than ever,” said Chris Pleines, a dating expert who reviews dating apps for the blog DatingScout. “Additionally, especially in terms of casual dating, people have decided to reduce contact.” 

Hinge matched the requirement.  

Launched in 2012, the same year as Tinder,  Hinge branded itself as the anti-Tinder by appealing to daters suffering Tinder’s swiping fatigue and needing committed relationships. Match acquired the startup in 2019.

Match’s acquisition was driven by the need to retain users who were looking to move past Tinder’s hookup culture, said Mark Brooks, a marketing consultant to online dating companies through his marketing agency Courtland Brooks. 

“Tinder is a game. I mean, what they intend to do with Tinder is soak up as many people as possible,” said Brooks. “And then what they intend to do with Hinge is graduate people from Tinder to Hinge.”  

Since the acquisition, Match made several changes to Hinge, from sprucing up its interface to expanding its limited money-making features. 

In the third quarter, Hinge launched paid features: virtual roses, akin to Tinder’s Super Like, that daters can gift each other and writing prompts called Standout to spur conversations between daters.  

The addition of these à la carte features accelerated the average revenue per user (ARPU); Match’s preferred metric for gauging success, more than 100% compared to 63% in the second quarter. Match didn’t provide revenue numbers for Hinge last year. Revenue from ARPU and subscribers to Hinge’s dating service skyrocketed more than 200% during the third quarter.    

À la carte features are an important source of revenue for dating apps. When Match’s subscriptions slowed during the outbreak of the coronavirus, its revenue was buttressed by the purchase of in-app features. 

Analysts are confident about Hinge’s success in increasing revenue for Match.    

“We’re beginning to see a reversal of the growth drivers and strength within the portfolio away from Tinder and towards the other brands, in particular Hinge and the newer brands,” wrote Ygal Arounian, analyst at financial services firm, Wedbush Securities in a note on Nov. 5.    

Lauren Cassel, Morgan Stanley’s analyst estimated that Hinge would have 8 million subscribers in 2030, contributing $2.8 billion in revenue compared to the current $60 million. 

Hinge “has experienced dramatic growth and quickly become a key player in the mobile dating landscape,” wrote Cassel in a note on Sept. 15. 

Hinge’s daters are older than Tinder with a priority for serious relationships. Cassel noted that this gave Match the opportunity to charge urban, millennial users a premium price to subscribe to Hinge’s dating service. 

Hinge’s user base has also seen record highs; growing from an estimated 35,000 subscriptions before Match’s acquisition to 400,000 subscribers this year. 

App data tracking company, App Ape, reported that Hinge had 1.2 million active users in October in the U.S., a 101.6% increase from last year, based on Google Play Store data.  

Active users refers to users who download the app and use it at least once a month. Among non-Tinder brands including OkCupid, PlentyofFish, Hinge secured the highest number of active users. Tinder grabbed the lion’s share of the dating pool with 3.7 million active users in October, outshining rival Bumble’s 2.2 million users.   

Hinge’s growing revenue and users is a feather in Match’s cap that can help advance its lead against competitors like Bumble. 

Match’s shares jumped 4.9% on Nov. 5.