Footage Market

Posted on 7/14/2006 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



July 14, 2006

Is the use of stock footage really taking off? It seems logical that the use of footage would grow as there is growth in advertising on the internet and on mobile devices.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau says Internet advertising spending in the U.S. in 2005 was $12.542 billion. Zenith Optimedia says global ad spending for the Internet channel was $18.478 billion in 2005. Total worldwide ad spend for 2005 was $406.515 billion making the internet spend about 4.7% of the 2005 total.

Zenith Optimedia says internet advertising is growing faster that any other advertising medium "thanks to rapid innovation in the types of internet advertising, and in ways of measuring it and tracking customer responses to it." They expect spend on internet advertising to represent 7% of total advertising spend by 2008. By comparison in 2005 the spend for Magazines represented about 9% of the total and direct mail about 17%.

Unlike print the internet and mobile platforms are not limited to using still images, but can use video. Thus, it seems likely that there will come a time when there is a decline in the use of still images and an increase in the use of motion on these platforms. The question is when.

According to a recent story in the Rocky Mountain News, BBC Worldwide has estimated that stock footage is a $300 million market today and is poised to grow to a $1 billion market by 2010. I estimate that the worldwide market for stock still images is currently about $1.7 billion and growing at a very slow rate, if at all. If the BBC is right then motion is likely to become a very significant part of the stock business very quickly.

But let's look at some other numbers. It is generally conceded that Getty Images is the dominant seller of stock footage. In 2005 the company generated $38.11 million from footage sales. That was a 12% growth over the $33.94 million in 2004. In 1998, before Getty acquired TIB, the footage division of that company was doing $24.8 million in gross sales. Sources tell us that between 1998 and 2001 there was a major explosion in the sales of footage due to the internet bubble with companies spending money on ads and content like there was no tomorrow. These sources believe that by the end of 2000 Getty's sales of footage were in the range of $40 million.

Then the bubble burst. There were dramatically fewer sales for advertising and many of the corporate users disappeared as well. The theory is, although we don't have solid numbers to verify this because Getty wasn't providing the current degree of granularity in their numbers in 2000, that Getty's sales are just now getting back to where they were in 2000. Nevertheless, using the figures we have we know that this line of business has only grown 53% over almost 8 years, or an average of less than 7% per year.

Corbis does not break out footage from its total revenue figures, but I believe it is much smaller than Getty's and probably in the $5 to $10 million range. Jupiter's revenue from footage is likely even less. So the total revenue that I can account for from the majors is probably less than $50 million and rising at maybe 12% per year. There are also a number of smaller footage suppliers, but I doubt that at the current time they add significantly to the gross revenue.

Getty has 70,000 clips from brands like: Image Bank Film, Archive Film, Universal Studios, Air Hollywood and Film. Another company called Thought Equity (, founded in 2002 claims to have 165,000 clips and has achieved this number by signing licensing deals with HBO, Sony Pictures and the NCAA among others.


All this begs the question "Where does the BBC get its numbers?" I don't know, but can offer one possibility that should not be discounted. Getty and the others in our industry specialize in selling 5 to 10 second clips that can be used as part of a TV advertisement, or inserted into longer corporate videos. In its figures the BBC may be including 30 minute videos that are produced by independent producers or TV stations and sold (as stock) to other TV outlets around the world. With the explosion of cable TV stations looking for content, this certainly is an exploding market. In one sense this is "stock" footage, but it is a radically different kind of product from what Getty and others in the stock photo industry are offering today.

While it seems likely that there will be growth in the use of digital video on the Internet footage producers need to carefully consider whether that demand will be for stock "clips" or full length stories. There certainly will be increased use of both, but the greater demand may be for stories rather than clips.

One issue facing those producing stock clips is the format to use in producing the content.
For the most part distributors still want footage to be shot with 35mm film cameras. Some photographers are producing digital video with less expensive digital cameras. This is perfectly satisfactory for use on the Internet, but for the most part is unacceptable for TV advertising. Using inexpensive cameras and being able to work with a smaller crew keeps production costs at a more manageable level, but only a few distributors are willing to accept digital video clips at this time.

Another issue that has caused some potential suppliers to put producing footage on hold is the coming High Definition TV standard. It may not be economic to produce film clips now if they will have a short useful life because they do not meet the Hi-Def standard, but at this early stage is it too expensive a proposition, relative to the current potential use, to start shooting Hi-Def now?

Stock footage is certainly an important market to watch and consider, but it may still be a little early for most still shooters to get involved.

Copyright © 2006 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:  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff