Shutterstock’s Vision Of Market Size

Posted on 8/3/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

On the Shutterstock conference call yesterday CEO and Founder Jon Oringer and CFO Steven Berns made some statements about stock photo market size, and growth potential, that need to be examined.


When discussing the Editorial market Oringer said, “Today, we believe our editorial business represents less than 1% of what we estimate is a more than $1 billion market opportunity.”

That would mean that Shutterstock’s editorial revenue is something less than $10 million annually. Based on what some of their suppliers tell me I think it is significantly less.

Based on an industry analysis I did in February 2016, and another in April 2017, I believe the Global Market Size for stock images and video clips was about $2.4 to $2.5 billion with about $500 million of that for editorial.

About half of that $500 million is generated by Getty Images, clearly the market leader. Given the general trends of declining space for images in print publications and declining prices, I think it is very unlikely that we will see future growth in editorial revenue. More images are being used online, but at the lowest possible prices and the increased number of uses are not resulting in higher revenue overall.  


Oringer said, “In motion, we believe we have around 3% of what we estimate is a $2 billion and growing market opportunity.”  That would mean that Shutterstock’s gross video clip and music revenue would be around $60 million. The video clip revenue for Getty Images, the market leader, is about $75 million.

According to an ACSIL Survey conducted in 2014 global video clip revenue was about $550 million up 40% from $394 million three years earlier. It is possible that revenue may have continued to grow at a 40% rate and is as high as $750 to $800 million now. But, it should be remembered that a huge percentage of this revenue is generated from the use of historical video clips and clips from productions of major motion pictures and private production companies. Neither Shutterstock, nor Getty have access to much of this footage.

Oringer said, “So, based on our internal estimates of what the potential markets are for each of these businesses, we have the potential for huge runway for growth in these emerging areas of our company.”

Custom Content

Oringer said, “Flashstock serves a growing base of enterprise marketers, seeking on-brand custom content to seize ever-growing visual demand of multiple marketing channels. We expect this offering (which they intend to brand Shutterstock Custom) will help us take home a bigger piece of our clients' overall content budget.

“To give you a sense of the opportunity this business has for Shutterstock, our internal estimate indicates a potential total addressable market of about $7 billion and we believe that, specifically with our Flashstock acquisition, we currently have a minimal share of the market.

“Flashstock has about 300 customers and 10,000 contributors today, which compares to our tens of thousands of enterprise customers and hundreds of thousands of contributors. So, there's lots of room to scale there,” he continued.

It’s anyone’s guess as to the size of this market, given that the vast majority of such assignment work is performed by individual photographers who work on direct assignments from the customer. No organization tracks any significant percentage of this type of work, or breaks out the fees and expenses involved. No one makes a separate accounting of the revenue generated from various types of assignment work that individual photographers might do such as weddings, events or the kind of photos Shutterstock customers might need.
If I had to make a guess, based on my 55 years of experience in the industry, I would estimate the “addressable market” is dramatically below $1 billion and it is questionable as to whether Shutterstock will be able to penetrate this market any better than it has penetrated the editorial market in the 2 ½ years since they acquired Rex Features.

Most art directors have a ready list of photographers able to take on assignments in their local area. They don’t need Shutterstock for that. Where it gets a little harder to find a qualified photographer to do a job is when the photographs must be taken in another part of the world. Most of the major photo users used to fly their favorite photographer, whose work they had come to depend upon, to far flung locations to do such jobs.

Now everyone is trying to cut cost on photography and save money. Shutterstock Custom can provide a service to customers in such situations.

The trick will be in finding photographers who can consistently deliver the quality of imagery the clients want for the fees the clients are willing to pay. Shutterstock customers are likely to expect to get images at Shutterstock’s Image-on-Demand prices. No photographer trying to to earn part of his/her living expenses from the images produced can afford to go out and shoot custom images (that are not likely to ever be used by anyone else) for those prices.

Copyright © 2017 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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