Corbis Acquires Splash News

Posted on 7/21/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Corbis Images has acquired Splash News for an undisclosed amount. From its Los Angeles base Splash provides candid celebrity photography and video content to the world’s premiere print, online and broadcast media distributors of entertainment news.
Since its founding in 1990, Splash News has been recognized worldwide as a leading source for exclusive, breaking entertainment news and continues to experience explosive growth as consumer demand for candid celebrity content increases. Splash currently has more than 4.2 million images in its collection and consistently delivers about 300 new sets of images a day to its clients. (A “set” is normally 10 to 20 shots of a specific celebrity at a specific event.) In addition the company produces about 15 minutes of new video every day.

According to Gary Shenk, CEO of Corbis, about 50% of Corbis’ still image licensing revenue comes from sales for editorial uses. The editorial segment of Corbis’ business includes: documentary, fine art, archival, current events and entertainment imagery. In the entertainment segment of the business, “growth in the demand for both stills and video is explosive,” Shenk continued.

Splash is expected to significantly increase Corbis’ revenue in its entertainment category which comprises Corbis Outline, its red carpet business and its candid celebrity business. Currently Corbis has about 1,354,600 images keyworded people in its editorial collection. Of those 638,805 or about 47% are entertainment related.


Today, video represents a relatively small part of Splash’s overall revenue, but is the fastest growing segment of its business. The two aspects of the video business are individual clips licensed to publishers and news outlets and Splash News Television. Splash News Television supplies 45 minutes a week of 60-90 second clips with voiceover in English and French. SNTV gets more than 350 million video streams per year and has had over one billion page views since the beginning of 2011. SNTV also supplies pictures, a blog feed and a text feed every day. Currently, the best examples of this product are on MSN Canada. See link. This production of short videos is a ‘managed services’ business for Splash. They completely manage the content needs for their customer.

These one minute segments like those that appear on its home page often use a series of still images with a video background. Where possible, video is used, but there are so many more photographers shooting stills without video that still images have to be used as well. For the most part the compensation is the same as for any TV program in entertainment. The videos are made in-house with Splash staff or freelance editors. Contributing photographers are paid a percentage of the fee charged for use of the video. Since the show is scalable, Splash is able to identify how much they make total for each clip and accord a percentage to the photographers based on the amount of content used.

Accessing The Splash Website

Splash operates a very closed web site. ( Only approved customers can search this site for imagery. However, most customers don’t search for images on Splash in the same way as they do other photo databases. Instead, Splash customers receive a feed which is also available through iPhone and iPad apps, as well as online. According to Shenk all the top Splash photographers have “wireless devices build into their cameras that feed images into the Splash systems automatically and instantaneously.” The images can be loaded on the Splash system and delivered to customers within 10 seconds of being shot. Customers use the images they want without having to contact Splash. Splash scans the customer’s print publications and web sites to determine actual usage. Then it bills the customer based on usage.

Shenk said, “One of the things that was most attractive to Corbis about Splash was the technology they use to get the imagery from the photographer to the customer. It is applicable to other parts of Corbis’ business.”

Site Integration

The Splash web site will continue to operate independently and the brand will continue to exist. Corbis plans to take some of Splashes 4.2 million images and video clips and put them on and As they see it the biggest opportunity in the near term is to expand the distribution of Splash content. “Today, Splash is a breaking news company and gets no revenue out of their archive,” Shenk said.

“We are looking for different ways to build an end-to-end entertainment offering. We need to work out the details. Certainly we want to find ways, either through or to bring the full suite of entertainment products to our customers through one source. That would include Corbis Outline, Sygma, our red-carpet coverage and Splash. We want a simple way thorough one web site to get all that content to our customers.”

Fan App

Splash has announced that they are working on an app that will give fans access to feed based on the type of imagery they want to see. Shenk said, “We’re still working on the business model, but it is in ‘active development.’ I would expect release later this year.”
At this time it is unclear whether the fee charged will be one-time for the app, or a subscription.
“We are thrilled to join Corbis and will continue to do what we do best – deliver the authentic, breaking content that connects the media with its audience. We look forward to providing Corbis’ customers real-time entertainment content to support their business growth and providing our global network of photographers the ability to expand beyond their current reach through Corbis’ global footprint,” said Gary Morgan, CEO, Splash.
Splash images are regularly featured on top-rated entertainment outlets including; TMZ, the E! News Network and the New York Post. Additionally, the company has delivered some of the industry’s largest scoops and scandals including; Sandra Bullock’s first public appearance with her newly adopted son, the first images of Michael Jackson’s first child, Anna Nicole Smith’s death in 2007 and Tiger Woods’ mistress in 2009.

Copyright © 2011 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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