How Much Will Getty Benefit From Licensing Corbis Images?

Posted on 2/3/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In a previous story, I came to the conclusion that the Corbis properties VCG purchased probably generated in the range of $60 million in 2015. Does that mean that after experiencing steadily declining Premium and Midstock revenue for several quarters Getty is likely to have a $60 million increase in 2016? I think the answer is No. Here’s a dozen reasons why.

1– Since around 2005, whenever Getty acquired a large collection combined gross revenue after the acquisition ended up being less than the two companies were generating separately prior to the acquisition.

2 – It is believed that Corbis revenue from this content has been declining 20% to 25% per year over the last couple years. That means that for one reason or another Corbis’ customers have either been using fewer images, or have found other suppliers. In some cases those customers have already gone to Getty and are getting all the images they need there. More likely, they have found some other source for most of the images they need. They won’t be coming back.

3 – Some believe that Getty might be able to increase its premium prices now that a major competitor is gone. This seems unlikely.  Getty has already lowered its prices on RF and Editorial images (in both the Getty and Corbis collections). What they charge for the use of a Corbis image will probably be less than what Corbis was charging. It is hard to tell what actual comparative prices were before the sale because both companies dramatically discount their list prices on a significant percent of sales.

4 - It is generally believed that Getty prices have been lower than those of Corbis. Thus, even if Getty can sell the same number of images in 2016 as Corbis sold in 2015 the revenue generated will be significantly lower .

5 - Getty still faces heavy competition from Shutterstock, Adobe and its own iStock. Shutterstock in particular will be moving aggressively to expand its Enterprise sales division and will probably continue to take share from Getty.

6 – Getty is likely to have major delays in integration. For some months Getty contributors have been complaining about slow editing due to inadequate staff to deal with the influx of new images. But, Getty doesn’t intend to move the entire Corbis collection to the Getty site. Rather, they intend to edit the collection picking certain images and contributors they want to represent. Then those contributors will need to sign new contracts. Getty needs to keep their costs low so they will try to do all this additional editing and administration with existing staff.

7 – While customers will be able to search the Corbis site for a while, at some point (rumors are within two to three months) the Corbis site will be closed down. Customers will have to go somewhere else. They may go to Getty, but they also may choose some other site with even lower prices and a more user friendly search. Some customers will be lost in this process.

8 – Corbis customers will find it difficult to locate and re-license images they used previously, or images they had comped hoping to purchase them when their project is approved.

9 – Many of the images Getty chooses to integrate are likely to end up further down in the search-return-order behind Getty’s existing best sellers. Since even the better selling Corbis images have been licensed many fewer times than best selling Getty images it will be hard to determine the relative interest in Corbis images until they have been available for viewing by Getty customers for a significant period of time. Meanwhile, since the Corbis images will be so far down in the search-return-order that no one will be able to find most of them, it will eventually be determined that the Corbis image collection is of little value.

10 – Existing Corbis customers who liked the Corbis search interface must go somewhere else. Many left Getty in the past and are not likely to return just because Corbis images are now available there. Since these image users must find a new source for the imagery they need, a significant number will test out other options. Some may settle for Getty. Others will find other alternatives.

11 – There is an increasing trend among image users to look at smaller, better curated collections for the images they need. Making the Getty collection larger by piling Corbis image on top (or at the bottom) is going in exactly the wrong direction.

12 – From a photographer’s point of view, it seems likely that Getty contributors will reap most of the benefit from Corbis customers who choose to search on since the Getty images will probably be higher in the search-return-order.

Copyright © 2016 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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