Getty Retiring Thinkstock

Posted on 4/9/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Getty Images has announced that it will be retiring in mid-2019 and taking steps to transition Thinkstock customers over to Getty Images and iStock. Getty says this move will make way for a newer and overall improved experience for Thinkstock customers on Getty Images and iStock.?

A significant percent of the imagery available on Thinkstock has for years been moved from iStock and the Getty Images RF collections. Initially, Thinkstock prices were lower than iStock prices, but in recent years Getty has moved the Thinkstock prices to substantially the same as iStock Essentials prices.

Once Getty is able to transition Thinkstock customers to iStock there is always the chance that occasionally those customers will decide to use one of the higher priced iStock Signature images.

For high volume customers Getty Images RF will probably be willing to do even lower priced deals than the customer would be able to get from either iStock or Thinkstock.

One of the advantages of this move for Getty is that they can get rid of the Thinkstock sales team. The current iStock and Getty Images sales teams will probably be able to easily handle the special needs of Thinkstock customers

Getty is currently telling Thinkstock customers seeking new image subscriptions or flexible plans to check out iStock. Customers that previously had annual subscriptions, have high volume needs or multi-seat products will be offered comparable products on Getty Images.

Thinkstock customers will be able to retain access to their previous downloads and will have access to better tools such as plugins and extensions for programs like Adobe® Creative Cloud® or WordPress.

Customers moving to Getty Images will retain their existing lightboxes. Additionally, and have more advanced on-site tools to help customers work faster including intuitive search and filters, bigger images in the search grid, ability to search by image, download multiple images, and a better mobile experience.

Customers who have licensed content in the past through Thinkstock may be worried about losing access to these images for future use. Getty has insured them that all non-exclusive iStock content is already available to specific subscription customers on Thinkstock annual subscribers will be offered a product that is made up of the same content that is currently available on Thinkstock, including the same iStock Essentials imagery. The company will continue to send new non-exclusive iStock content to Thinkstock until late 2018.

How Will Royalties Be Calculated?

Once customers are transitioned to Getty Images or iStock, royalties will be calculated the same way your Getty Images or iStock royalties are calculated. Please refer to the iStock Rate Card.

It will be interesting to see whether this switch results in higher or lower royalties for photographers. Currently, it seems that Thinkstock photographers received about $0.25 per subscription download. Thinkstock charges $299 a month for a subscription that allows 25 downloads a day (750 a month). However, if Getty is paying out 20% of the money collected then that on average customers that are allowed to download 750 images a month are only downloading about 239.  At iStock the non-exclusive photographers gets 15%, not 20%.

However, after the Unification Program was instituted in 2016 subscription royalty shares are supposed to be calculated based on the actual number of downloads each customer has in a given month. Unlike Thinkstock’s single subscription plan iStock customer can buy 10, 25 or 50 image subscriptions that may be more appropriate for their specific needs. These subscriptions cost less per month, but the per download price is actually higher than the 750 image option.

For example, taking the iStock 750 option for Essential image downloads that costs $166 a month with a one-year commitment suppose the customer only downloads 240 images in the month instead of 750. The value of each image would be $0.69. A 15% royalty of that would be $0.10. If the customer only downloads 100 images in the month each images would have a value of $1.66 and the royalty share would be $0.25. If the customer downloads 500 images the value of each image would be $0.33 and the royalty share would be $0.05.

In all these situations it is impossible to know the value of any download until the end of the month when we have a count of the actual total downloads made by each customer during that month.

If the customer chooses the 50 images option she only has to pay $90 for the month but the value of each image is $1.80. If she downloads all 50 images the royalty share is $0.27. If she downloads only 30 images the value of each image is $3.00 and the 15% royalty share is $0.45. If one month she needs a few more than 50 images she can buy a single month subscription for 25 images for $65 and she still will have paid less than the 750 image subscription price.

Copyright © 2018 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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