Getty to Launch Valueline

Posted on 8/28/2007 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Getty Images will use to launch a new RF brand called Valueline on August 31. Prices for Valueline images will be $19 for a 1mb low res image and $49 for all other RF file sizes from 10mb to 300mb.

Initially, the new brand will be seeded with 100,000 images created prior to December 2005 from the Digital Vision, Photodisc and Stockbyte collections. Most of these images are wholly owned by Getty, but a few are owned by photographers who receive royalties on each sale. In addition, Valueline will contain about 20,000 images from other sources (presumably image partners) that will add breadth and depth to the collection, per announcement said.

Too Many Images

After an aggressive program of image acquisition that has more than doubled Getty's RF image collection since November 2005, the company has now decided there are too many RF images on its site. The site has 876,039 RF images and that does not count the 120,000 that have been removed in preparation for launching Valueline. The average annual return per RF image (RPI) in November 2005 was about $558 and now, the added images, the RPI is down to about $326. While the number of single image RF on the site has increased about 146% since November 2005, the average annual revenue from RF has only increased in the range of 9%.

Getty's basic search-return-order prioritizes brands first and then delivers images based on how recently they were added to each brand. As a result, older images are seldom seen. One problem -- newer images are not always the best for a particular customer's needs. With Valueline Getty can give these older images a high priority in Punchstock's search return order and push all the other brands on Punchstock farther down. It gives older images a better chance of visibility and generating revenue.

Microstock Implications

Sources within Getty have indicated that this move is a "direct results of Getty's loss of sales to low cost non-Getty RF brands" (read microstock). This, and Getty's move yesterday (Getty Dramatically Lowers Prices For Web Use) indicate that the company has recognized it's not successful in up-selling microstock customers to Getty's traditional priced products. Getty is dramatically lowering the price of its traditional product to draw customers away from the microstock sites and get them to use the slightly higher-priced Valueline images.

Huge Risks

This strategy has huge risks for the industry, and in the long run probably for Getty. All the other RF brands on Punchstock, which include virtually all of the world's RF companies, may now be forced to lower their prices to compete with Valueline. Chances are, these other brands will lose sales to Valueline, significantly decreasing Punchstock's overall revenue, unless there is a dramatic increase in the total number of images purchased.

There is no indication that the total number of images used at traditional prices has been growing. Thus, if customers who have been paying $250 for an RF image can now get what they need for $49, and no more images are sold, the impact on the traditional side of the industry will be pronounced.

Many image buyers may leave other traditional stock portals and race to purchase quality Digital Vision and Stockbyte images at prices significantly below what they would pay elsewhere. The reduced price should make older Valueline images more attractive. This could hurt the rest of the industry, but keep Punchstock's revenue strong. On the other hand, one of the sites they may be leaving is Meaning: Getty gains a $49 sale on Punchstock, but loses a $250 sale on Gettyimages.

Last quarter, Getty licensed rights to approximately 240,000 RF images for gross revenue of $59.68 million. If even 5% of those customers find the images they need on Punchstock instead of Getty Images, that could cost Getty almost $2.4 million in the next full quarter. To make up the loss, it's got to sell 49,000 $49 images to microstock buyers or 126,000 $19 images.

Why Switch?

Customers purchasing images at Microstock prices has been growing dramatically, but the only way Getty wins is if it can upsell a significant number of Microstock customers to this new higher priced imagery. What is not clear is why Microstock customers will want to use these images, which are older and often out-of-date.

It is also unclear why a customer would pay $19 when he can get an image that will work for $1 or, for a slightly larger file size, pay $49 when he can pay $3 to $5 for an image. While the Valueline prices are low from a traditional point of view, they may not be low enough to attract the microstock customers in significant numbers.

It is far from a foregone conclusion that this will work to Getty's advantage, but it seems very likely that image producers will lose.

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 301-461-7627, 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:  


  • Val Gelineau Posted Aug 29, 2007
    Looks like the photo stock industry is about to launch a new roller coaster called Valueline. But, before you jump on board, or jump overboard, let’s take a closer look at what might be going on.

    As most of you are well aware, the photo stock industry has been changing for a number of years – rights managed vs. royalty free, subscription services, micro payment options, mergers, acquisitions and consolidation of companies. These have been the trends for the last 10 years. In response to these trends, innovative entrepreneurs have developed business models to create new ways of offering their products to accommodate the buying habits of new and existing customers.

    Among these emerging models is the micro-payment sites, including the Getty owned, iStock, which in part is possibly responsible for its recent price slashing. On the surface, these sites seem to be the better value, pushing a trend for all companies to launch their own micro-payment option. This is evident in the recent proliferation of new micro-payment sites popping up in the industry, like weeds after a spring storm. However, when you factor in the higher resolution images and large quantity of image downloads that a subscription service allows, the lately overlooked subscription service is a much better value.

    In Getty’s own micro-payment site, the price for a high resolution image is $10.00. Using simple math, the advantage greatly shifts to support the subscription model. If the subscription customers download just 30 high-resolution images in one year, they far exceed the cost of the subscription. For these customers, the benefit lies in downloading whatever they need whenever they need it without the worry of how many credits they have available. I think that one dollar downloads are a great option for the customer that needs a small quantity of low-res images. But, if the customer needs images for print or a large quantity of images at a great value- under a dollar per day, not a dollar per download-then the subscription model is well worth considering.

    As Getty releases its new site, Valueline, take a moment to remember, a product released by Getty in early 2001 and dropped a little after a year of operation. Getty, like all companies, is concerned with the bottom line and will use its large customer base to test new products and services as they have done in the past. Will this new venture succeed? Who knows. Right now it’s 100,000 mostly outdated images. These images might be over priced at $19-$49 per image. But, with Getty’s marketing muscle and position in the industry, all I can say is fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a ride.

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