Has Spark Networks Really Turned Around Its Falling Subscriber Metrics?

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Spark Networks says it has seen a subscriber increase for the first time in over two years.

The dating operator, which owns brands Christian Mingle and JDate, says both big brands have seen an increase in subscribers in Q3 of 2015.

In its latest subscriber metric report, Spark said paid subscribers to the Jewish network totalled 64,144 at the end of Q3, up 1.8% from the previous quarter.

The Christian network subscriber total sat at 122,068, up 0.4% from the end of Q2.

However these positive figures are based on a new metric Spark has introduced to “help our investors better understand the trajectory of our business”, called “period ending subscribers”.

Period ending subscribers represent the paying subscriber count on the last day of the period.

Previously, Spark, like many others, measured its number of subscribers by average paying subscribers, which is calculated by the sum of the paying subscribers at the beginning and end of the month, divided by two.

Speaking about this new metric, CEO Michael S. Egan said: “With this new metric, we are broadening our disclosure beyond average subscribers in a quarter, aiming to provide additional clarity to investors as we continue to execute against our turnaround plan.”

However, despite the positive “period ending subscriber” metrics, Spark’s average paying subscriber count is still falling.

In Q3 of 2015, the company’s total average paying subscribers actually fell by 3.3%, to 197,109.

This could mean that Spark has a huge push towards the end of the month, to make sure the number of subscribers are higher on the final day of Q3 – perhaps by giving discounts to JDate and ChristianMingle, something they are known to do – despite the fact that average paying subscribers are still down.

At the start of the year, Spark Networks said it was entering a “walk, crawl and run” growth stage, and committed to pushing a positive subscriber growth by the end of 2015.

Speaking about the latest results, Egan said: “We’ve made significant strides across both brands and our Q3 ending subscriber numbers reflect this. The growth in ending subscribers in our Jewish Networks relative to Q2 represents the first quarter of sequential growth in two years and was led by the strongest growth in our key U.S. market in over five years.

“Likewise, we were able to grow our ChristianMingle subscriber numbers for the first time since early 2013 and did so with our most efficient marketing spend in years.”

With these results, Egan believes the company has entered the “run” phase of its turnaround.

Whether or not Spark has genuinely turned its falling subscriber count around will likely become apparent over the next few quarters, if all the metrics start growing in a positive way.

Check out the results here.