Market Size Revenue Analysis

Posted on 5/30/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

I believe the gross worldwide revenue generated from the licensing of stock imagery, both still photos and illustrations, is about $1.8 billion annually. There has been no growth since last year's prediction. This figure does not include footage, music, assignment work, rights clearance, poster sales (except for that part of the total revenue paid to use the image) or any of the other business in which many of the industry's leading companies are involved.

This article focuses on licensing rights to stock imagery. The figures include wire service imagery made available through subscriptions and all other subscription products.

About $1.1 billion of the $1.8 billion comes from images that are used for commercial purposes, and $700 million is for editorial uses. In general, the overall revenue breakdown by region is 41% from the Americas, 49% from EMEA and 10% from Asia/Pacific. Currency exchange rates play an important role in these percentages.

The chart below breaks down gross revenues (in millions) for the various regions:

Commercial Rev.Editorial Rev














Within each region my estimated breakdowns are as follows:










C & S America













Middle East













Rest of Asia




These estimates of gross sales are not meant to be the sum total revenue of all companies whose images are sold within the region. In this industry, there is a lot of double counting, due to one company distributing the imagery of another. A portion of the revenue from many sales shows up on the books of two or more companies.

I estimate that at least 20%, and probably higher, of total revenue collected from customers shows up on the books of two or more companies. Thus, if we could total the reported income from all the companies in the industry, it would be in the range of $2.16 billion, not the $1.8 billion I believe was collected in license fees.

Hard News, Editorial Features, Books

I estimate that about one-third of the total editorial numbers are for news pictures, one-third for editorial features and one-third for books. However, in some regions, book use makes up a larger percentage of editorial use; in others, a greater percentage is attributed to newspapers and magazines.

Micropayment Growth

Some will argue that there has been a huge growth in micropayment usage and a huge growth in new customers coming into the industry. Therefore, there must have been some growth in revenue in 2007 compared to 2006 and before. In my opinion, the availability of high-quality images at micropayment prices has cannibalized enough traditional sales to offset any overall revenue growth that microstock sales might have contributed. Getty Images alone has estimated that its Creative Stills revenue will be down $100 million in 2008 compared to 2007, and it will continue to fall.

The new customers micropayment has brought into the market do offer a potential for future growth if commercial users of microstock are charged more competitive rates.

Copyright © 2008 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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