Getty's Midstock Revisited

Posted on 10/10/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

There is increasing interest among debt investors as to what is happening at Getty and particularly in their Midstock division. I posted an analysis last week, but already there is new information worth updating.

Based on analysis I did in July ( I have been pretty sure that iStock had about 10 million downloads in 2012 and was on track in July to have about the same number of downloads in 2013. It has been reported that gross revenue of the Midstock division was about $300 million in the last 4 quarters and that it fell about 9% year-on-year. In addition it was reported that 70% of the Midstock revenue came from the licensing of Exclusive images.

Now comes the more speculative analysis.

A number of the Non-exclusive iStock contributors have reported that the average licensing fee for their images was around $9.88 for the first half of the year and around $4.22 after the price drop in July when Getty started its “1/2 Our Imagery Is Now 1/2 The Price” promotion. I’m going to use those numbers for some calculations.

About $210 million of iStock’s $300 revenue should have been from Exclusive images.
If the remaining $90 million was generated by Non-exclusive contributors sales and we divide $9.88 into $90 million we get about 9,109,312 total Non-exclusive downloads.

For Exclusive images I assumed an average price of a credit at $1.50 and based on the average price on the default Large file size arrived at a $60 per download. In that case there would have been 3.5 million Exclusive downloads. Add this number to the Non-exclusives and we have 12,609,312 total downloads for the year.

Some have argued that $1.50 is too high given discounts for large users and promotional offers so I lowered the average price or $1.20 per credit which would drop the cost per download to $48 and result in 4.375 total Exclusive download. Add the Exclusive and Non-Exclusive downloads together and we get 13,484,213 total downloads for the year.

Others have said that $48 is still too high because most customers purchase either the small or medium file sizes, not the large file sizes. Sales of these contributors (based on only a few reports) indicate that the average should be in the $25 to $30 per download range for Exclusive sales. At $25 per download there would have been 8,400,000 Exclusive sales putting the total for Exclusive and Non-Exclusive at over 17.5 million downloads which clearly seems to me to be impossible.

Some believe that Thinkstock revenue might also be included in the Midstock category. Based on reports I had received previously from some major contributors to both Thinkstock and Shutterstock, I had come to the conclusion that Thinkstock revenue was no more than $10 million. However, new reports from contributors who also have collections on both sites indicate that Thinkstock revenue might be as high as $40 to $50 million. I have trouble seeing how Getty could argue that Thinkstock is a Midstock brand since it is priced lower than most Microstock offerings, but I guess they can give it any name they want.

Now, if we assume that Thinkstock is $45 million and it makes up half of $90 million in “other” revenue, that leaves the other $45 million for iStock Non-exclusive. In that event at $9.88 gross revenue per download there would only be 4,554,656 Non-exclusive downloads. Add that to 8,400,000 Exclusive downloads at an average price of $25 and we get a total of almost 13 million downloads for the year.

If there is 13 million downloads rather than 10 million then the proportion of sales thattop producers (my 192 with 20% of total downloads) make relative to the entire community has declined over the years. This is not an impossibility.

It would be nice to have more detailed and accurate information, but this is the best we can do.

Price Drop Due To Discounting Non-Exclusive Images

The other interesting thing is how the price drop might affect the revenue numbers. If the average Non-exclusive price dropped from $9.88 to around $4.22 and the downloads remained the same the revenue generated by Non-exclusive sales would have been:

9,109,312 total downloads at $4.22 each would generate $38,441,297, not $90 million
4,554,656 total downloads at $4.22 each would generate $19,220,648, not $45 million

Getty will have to sell a significant number of additional Exclusive images or see a significant increase in Thinkstock subscriptions to make up for the revenue lost from lowering the price of the Non-exclusive images.

Some Non-exclusives are reporting increased download, but not enough to make up for the more than 100% price decline. In addition it seems that some of Non-exclusive increase comes from customers that used to buy Exclusive images and are now going to the significantly lower priced Non-exclusive ones.

I predict that Getty saw another decline in Midstock revenue in Q3 2013.

Copyright © 2013 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:  


  • Courtney Keating Posted Oct 13, 2013
    Just a note on income from exclusive downloads.
    My average RPD for istock files is around $6.00. My commission level is 40%. If I am indicative of the overall average, the RPD for exclusive files is only around $20.00.
    My Istock username is courtneyk

  • Christopher Futcher Posted Oct 23, 2013
    I am also at 40% and my RPD is about $12.50.

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