Stock Photo Market Size: 2010

Posted on 11/1/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

A Selling Stock subscriber recently asked, “Do you have any idea of what are the actual market shares of Getty and Corbis worldwide?” A lot of guess work is required to answer that question as there are no longer any numbers publicly available to help in such an analysis. 

The numbers included here are based on estimates of still image sales. They do not include footage and multimedia, music, rights clearance or other lines of business in which Getty Images and Corbis are involved. Back in 2007, prior to the sale of  Getty Images to Hellman and Friedman, Goldman Sachs estimated that by 2012, these other lines of business would generate $284 million for Getty and represent 24% of the company’s total revenue.

It stands to reason that these other market areas have been growing faster than the still photo side of the business, so they might actually represent a higher percentage of total revenue than was estimated by Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sacks estimated that creative stills (rights-managed and traditional royalty-free imagery) sales would decline from $561 million to $348 million by 2012. This was before the recession. Based on input from photographers, who report their sales declining, Getty’s number for creative stills is likely already lower than $348, about half of which is rights-managed and the other half is royalty-free.

In 2007, Getty’s gross editorial sales were $138 million, projected to go to $289 million by 2012. Getty had acquired WireImage shortly before going private, so it is reasonable to assume that editorial revenue would grow. On the other hand, a crisis has occurred in the entire editorial business in the last three years. The recession is certainly responsible for part of the decline, but a much more important reason for it has been the paradigm shift in the way people access the information they need—moving away from print and toward the Internet and other electronic devices. Consequently, it is likely that Getty is still providing the same number of images as in 2007, but the average price per image or per subscription has dropped 30% or more. I would estimate the company's editorial revenue at around $175 million for 2010.

The bright star, of course, is iStockphoto. Gross revenue for the company in 2007 was $72 million, and it will probably generate close to $300 million in 2010. This is due to about a 40% growth in the number of images licensed annually, plus some huge price increases. Growth in units licensed seems to have flattened in the last 18 months, but iStock is still finding ways to raise prices. As such, it is hard to tell where things will end up. As prices rise, iStockphoto may sell fewer units when customers go to the other microstock companies to get the images they need.

Getty is clearly not earning enough from iStock to cover the declines in the other lines of its business, as evidenced by cutting the royalty share of iStockphoto image suppliers in order to have a profitable business.

In light of the above, I would estimate that Getty’s still image sales as of the end of 2010 will be in the neighborhood of $800 million for the year. 

Back in 2007, I estimated Corbis’ still photo sales at $210 million, based on the small amount of data the company had revealed at that time. Since then, and despite the acquisition of Veer, I believe Corbis sales have been on a steady downward spiral. I would be surprised if its 2010 still photo sales exceeded $150 million. Corbis has other business lines, and its rights clearance business alone may exceed $30 million.

Together, that puts Getty and Corbis at about $950 million in still photo sales.  In September 2009, I estimated the still image sales for the stock photo industry worldwide at $1.45 billion. Thus, sales of all the other players in the market would be about $500 million. I believe sales have remained more or less flat for the industry since the fall of 2009, so these numbers will probably remain an accurate reflection of the industry at the end of 2010. 

It should also be noted that $100 to $150 million of the $500 million can be attributed to microstock sellers other than iStock.  Editorial sellers like the Associated Press, Reuters, AFP, EPA and smaller editorial agencies are responsible for another $150 million. This leaves something in the range of $200 million in creative (rights-managed and traditional royalty-free imagery) sales for all the other companies engaged in this segment of the still photography business.  

Copyright © 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:  


  • Tong Jiang Posted May 17, 2012

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