New Business Model - Issue 6

Posted on 9/21/2007 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Issue 6 - The explosion of growth in content means the average return per image (RPI) will fall. However, it is no less expensive to produce images than it used to be.

In November 2003, I began tracking Getty Images return-per-image by dividing the total number of RM and RF images on the Creative section of their site into the total revenue generated in the previous four quarters. This has revealed some startling trends.

Since last fall, I have included the Rights Ready numbers in the RM category because Getty combines these two when it reports revenue. Currently, there are 905,922 RM images and 269,770 RR for a total of 1,174,692.

There are currently 844,227 images on the Getty Web site, but Getty has recently pulled 120,000 off its site and placed them into its Valueline brand the company will distribute through Punchstock at discount prices.

Getty's RM revenue for the last four quarters has totaled $317.6 million.  RF revenue totaled $321.07 million for a combined total of $638.67 million.

The total revenue growth for RM over the four-year period has been $49.3 million or about 18%, while the number of images on the site has grown 340%. In the RF category, the revenue has grown an impressive 160%  - but about 124% of that growth was due to price increases, not increased usage. The company also acquired two very large RF distributors - Digital Vision and Stockbyte - during the period. During this same period, the total number of RF images on the site grew 509%, causing the average return per  image to drop about 50%.

 Average RPI
YearRMRFCombined RM &RF





















Number of Images
YearRMRFCombined RM & RF






















In the last four years, Getty's gross revenue from still-image licensing has grown about 50%, but not nearly as fast as the number of images added to the collection. As a result, image suppliers must produce more images each year just to stay even.

In order to determine the number of images in the file, I have searched the RM section for horizontal, vertical, panoramic and square each November, then totaled the four figures. I used the same procedure to find the number of RF images.

This technique results in a rough approximation of the average return-per-image rather than a precise figure, as images are being added throughout the year. There is no way to tie actual images available to revenue generated for a shorter period. Nevertheless, since the same procedure was used each year, I believe the trends are an accurate reflection of what has been happening.

Photographers should keep in mind that these averages reflect the gross return for Getty. Photographers or Image Partner agencies will receive a small portion of this based on their royalty percentage. It should also be recognized that these numbers are only averages.

Copyright © 2007 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 301-251-0720, 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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