Getty Turns The Corner

Posted on 4/17/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

From and investors point of view, Getty may have turned the corner. However, this may not benefit image creators, particularly those from North America and the Western Europe.

It is my understanding that gross revenue in 2016 was about $840 million, up about 4% from around $808 million in 2015. Until 2016, Getty’s revenue declined steadily for about three years as they struggled to get their prices in line with their major competitor, Shutterstock.

The 2016 revenue brakes down roughly as follows: $252 million for Editorial, $84 million for Footage and just under $500 million for Creative Stills. (There was a small amount of Other income.) My sources could not provide a more detailed breakdown of Creative Stills, but I estimate that roughly $100 million was for RM, and $170 to $180 million for RF from the site, and about $210 million for the Midstock division that includes iStock and Thinkstock.

Editorial is always stronger in years when there is an Olympics, World Cup or a U.S. Presidential Election. Since none of those are occurring in 2017 Editorial may be down somewhat this year.

Investors don’t seem to be particularly concerned about Getty’s roughly $2.6 billion debt as they feel the company generates plenty of cash to cover its interest payments. The Getty Images debt includes:

  Interest Costs
$1.9 billion term loan at 4.75% $90,250,000
$250 million bond at 10.59% $26,475,000
$316 million bond at 7%, maturing in 2020 $22,120,000

Thus, the annual interest cost on this debt would be about $138,845,000. In terms of cash flow, Getty still has about $100 million in cash that it received from Visual China Group for extending its agreement to supply images to VCG into the future.

It is my understanding that about 37% to 38% of gross Creative revenue, or roughly $190 million annually, comes from subscriptions. This includes iStock and Thinkstock subscriptions as well as Premium Access deals that offer lower prices to volume users for images in the RM and RF collections. iStock’s introduction of subscriptions in 2014 has been a major driver of subscription growth. In the last few years, creators have also seen a significant increase in percentage of Premium Access sales.

Getty is clearly trying to get more customers into subscriptions, or bundled packages of images and away from a la carte sales. Getty has also made it very easy for customers to go to the Creative tab and toggle directly to the iStock collection. However, it is still difficult for customers who are only interested in RM images to see all Getty has to offer and not just the limited number in the Prestige collection.

Currently there are 18,173,858 images in the collection. Of this number 11,679,898 (65%) are RF and 6,493,960 (35%) are RM. Of the total RM collection only 146,927 can be found under the Prestige tab. There is no way to determine the total number of iStock images that can also be accessed through, but it appears to be the entire iStock collection.

Getty has also consolidated its sales force so a single sales person handles all of each customer’s needs, rather than having one sales person for Creative, another for Midstock and others for Editorial and Video. In this way the sales person becomes more aware of the customer’s total image needs and structure a subscription package that fits each customer's usage requirements. As use increases the sales person can then can find ways to push up the price.

Copyright © 2017 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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