New iStock Prices Released

Posted on 9/15/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Over the weekend iStock launched its new prices to compete with Shutterstock. The following chart shows the credit packages available at both iStock and Shutterstock and the average price per credit.

iStock Credits       Shutterstock    
  Credit Price per   Credits Credit Price per
  Package Credit     Package Credit
1 credit $15 $15.00   2 credits $29 $14.50
3 credits $36 $12.00   5 credits $49 $9.80
6 credits $65 $10.83   25 credits $229 $9.16
18 credits $175 $9.72        
36 credits $325 $9.02        
60 credits $520 $8.66        
150 credits $1,250 $8.33        
300 credits $2,400 $8.00        

Under the new iStock system each Essentials images requires 1 credit to purchase; each Signature image require 3 credits. Thus, a 6 credit package would allow the customer to purchase 6 Essentials images at a cost of $10.83 each, or 2 Signature images at a cost of $32.49 each. At Shutterstock any image in their collection can be purchased with 1 credit.


The subscription plan comparisons are as follows:

iStock offers two subscription plans – Essentials and Signature + Essentials.

    $166.58 per month for a total 1-year commitment of $1998.96
    Signature + Essentials  
    $333.25 per month for a total 1-year commitment of $3,999.
By comparison Shutterstock subscription prices are:                     
    1 month    $249
    3 moths     $229 per month

    1 year        $199 per month for a total of $2,388 for the year.

Old Prices Compared To New

It is interesting to compare iStock’s new single image pricing with the prices they charged for various file sizes in July 2013 and earlier this month. Under the old credit system the price of credits ranged from $1.50 to $2.00 for most credit packages of a reasonable size. I will use $1.50 value per-credit in order to arrive at a dollar price per-image for old credits. To make it easier to understand I have bolded the few prices that are higher than the customer was paying two weeks ago.

  July Sept 1 Sept 15
  2013 2014 2014
xSmall $1.50    
Small $3.00 $3.00 $9.72
Medium $4.50 $6.00 $9.72
Large $6.00 $7.50 $9.72
Xlarge $7.50 $9.00 $9.72
XXLarge $9.00 $10.50 $9.72
XXXLarge $10.50 $12.00 $9.72

  Signature       Signature+       Vetta    
  July Sept 1 Sept 15   July Sept 1 Sept 15   July Sept 1 Sept 15
  2013 2014 2014   2013 2014 2014   2013 2014 2014
xSmall $7.50       $15.00            
Small $10.50 $10.50 $29.16   $30.00 $30.00 $29.16   $52.50 $67.50 $29.16
Medium $18.00 $22.50 $29.16   $45.00 $52.50 $29.16   $82.50 $105.00 $29.16
Large $25.50 $30.00 $29.16   $60.00 $60.00 $29.16   $112.50 $112.50 $29.16
Xlarge $30.00 $37.50 $29.16   $67.50 $75.00 $29.16   $157.50 $165.00 $29.16
XXLarge $37.50 $42.00 $29.16   $75.00 $82.50 $29.16   $202.50 $240.00 $29.16
XXXLarge $42.00 $45.00 $29.16   $82.50 $90.00 $29.16   $240.00 $255.00 $29.16

At the Essentials level the extra large file sizes are now slightly cheaper than they were earlier this month. The small and medium size files will cost customers more money, but now they can get a larger file for the same price. The worry here is that some customers may have been buying smaller files because they had budget problems. Now, these customers may decide to go to another cheaper source for the images they need.

When it comes to the purchase of Signature images (Signature, Signature+ and Vetta) most customers will receive a substantial discount over what they have been paying in the past. It is believed that about 75% of iStock’s approximately $250 million 2013 revenue came from these three collections that are now grouped together under Signature brand name.

Certainly, the customers who have been purchasing images from these three collections will be very thankful for the tremendous discounts they are being offered. However, for creators one of the big unknowns is the average price customers have paid in the past for these exclusive images. We know that a high percentage of the images licensed have been smaller file sizes of the two Signature collections. 

Based on the royalties they receive some creators have indicated that the average annual license fee for their images has been in the mid $40 range. Other creators have suggested that it might not be much higher then $30. If it was as low as $30 then those creators should not see much difference in their gross royalties. Many customers were buying small files before because that was all they needed. Now they will likely download the highest resolution available, but neither iStock nor photographers will lose much as a result of the lower prices.

On the other hand, if the gross sale price in the past was around $45 then iStock will have to license rights to 50% more images than they licensed in the past to generate the same revenue.That much growth seems unlikely.

Extended License

There are indications that Extended Licenses have made up 20% to 25% of the royalty revenue many creators have received. If this is the case then the number of Extended Licensed purchased could have a major impact on a photographer’s total royalty. I believe those prices have increased somewhat, but I don’t have a clear record of what the prices used to be.

In the new system there are 5 options for extended licenses, each costing 18 credits or between $144 and $163 in addition the base download credits, and depending on whether the customer purchased 36 or 300 credit packages. The options are:
  • Multi-seat (unlimited)
  • Unlimited Reproduction/Print Runs
  • Items for Resale (limited run)
  • Electronic items for Resale (unlimited run)
  • Extended Legal Guarantee covers up to $250,000

Copyright © 2014 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:  


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