Estimated Value Of Assets Acquired By VCG

Posted on 1/27/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

VCG acquired parts, but not all, of Corbis’ assets. To understand what this means for the industry, it is important to have some idea of the amount of revenue the acquired assets generated in 2015? For a long-time Corbis has been thought to be the third largest seller of stock photography in the world after Getty and Shutterstock. If this is true, then how much does the combination of a significant part of the Corbis collection with Getty Images change the industry?

Getty will handle all the sales for VCG except those made in China. My guess is that sth sales of the Corbis images in China will represent less than 5% of all the revenue generated by the Corbis images. Getty will be integrating some, but not all, of the Corbis creative material into its collection. It seems likely that a significant percentage of the Corbis collection will not be added to the Getty collection. In some cases, particularly with stock agency collections, the same images may already be in both the Corbis and Getty collections. In other cases, Getty may decide that they do not want to represent the work of certain individual photographers because they already have an abundance of the particular subject matter in their collection.

The first thing to recognize is that Corbis retains ownership of the Entertainment Division (BEN) which includes rights clearance and representation, a significant part of the Entertainment collection and Splash, the news and sports operation.

VCG acquires the rest of the company which includes the RM, RF, the Veer collections and the Historical imagery. All this imagery falls into Getty’s “Creative Imagery” category in terms of price, licensing model and the customers that use such imagery. The gross revenue generated by Getty’s Creative collection has been under $300 million per year for the last couple of years.

VCG is also acquiring the Corbis Video collection, but it is believed it represents a very small percentage of Corbis’ overall business. This material will be marketed by Getty’s Footage division that is separate from Creative Imagery.

The question then becomes what was the gross revenue of Corbis’ overall business, and how much of that revenue are each of the two new segments likely to represent?

I have talked to a number of individuals with extensive knowledge of Corbis activities. The following is a compilation of their estimates. They believe total revenue generated by Corbis in 2015 was somewhere between $90 and $120 million.

Some say the Entertainment side has been “bleeding money,” but acknowledge that Splash has been growing revenue. They believe that the Creative side has been bigger than Entertainment, but they also say that Creative revenue has been dropping 20% to 25% a year for the last couple of years.

One organization that has a large collection of Creative images on both Getty and Corbis earned about 7.7 times more from Getty in 2015 as from Corbis. Both companies had access to virtually all the same imagery from this organization. If we assume that these figures represent the average for all contributors, and that gross sales of the Getty Creative collection in 2015 was $300 million, then gross sales for the Corbis Creative collection would have been about $40 million. I suspect Corbis sales were somewhat higher, but not a whole lot.

Thus, it seems likely to me that the assets purchased by VCG generated something in the range of $60 million for Corbis in 2015. The assets retained by Corbis BEN probably generated in the range of $30 to $40 million.
    (Keep in mind that since a significant percentage of Corbis revenue came from sales made by distributors who take a percentage of what the customer pays off the top before remitting the remainder to Corbis, the actual amount that customers paid to use Corbis images may have been quite a bit higher than $100 million.)

Future Royalties

Among the very interesting questions for Corbis contributors are:
    1 – Who will be paying them, Getty or VCG?
    2 – What will the revenue spits between Getty, VCG and the Contributor be for all the sales made by Getty’s 330 image partners.
In theory if an image partner makes a sale they would take a percentage (30% to 50%) before remitting the remainder to Getty. Then does Getty take a percentage of what is paid to them and pay the remainder to VCG? At that point does VCG, which technically owns the contracts, pays out 20% to 50% to the contributor of the small amount of the actual gross sale it received from Getty?

Or does Getty pay the contributor, and simply pay VCG a percentage of what it received, before calculating the contributor’s royalty based on the amount Getty retains after paying VCG?

Contributors will receive something, but unfortunately will probably never know the actual percentage that figure represents of what the end-using customer paid.

Copyright © 2016 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Sheron Resnick Posted Jan 27, 2016
    Dear Jim:

    Regarding your question #1, are there any distribution deals you know of where the distributor directly pays the contributor? I'm not aware of any. I've only seen deals where the the distributor takes their cut, passes the remainder to the content wholesaler, who then pays the contributor from the remaining portion.


    Don Resnick

  • Jean-pierre Lescourret Posted Jan 30, 2016
    We cannot make a difference beetween Getty and a third party in this deal . If getty licence an image from the Corbis files it should
    pay VCG (after commission as usual) . And then VCG should pay the photographer after deducing his own commission . Other way
    seems very strange .

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