Shutterstock Q3 2018 Financial Results

Posted on 10/30/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Shutterstock has reported Q3 2018 revenue of $151.6 million up $7.5% million compared to Q3 2017. (The comparison excludes the 2017 revenue from Webdam which was divested in Q1 2018.) Gross revenue was and down from $156.6 million in Q2 2018. Revenue per download averaged $3.40 per image, compared to $3.23 in Q3 2017. (Much of this growth is probably due to increased sales of video content offered at much higher prices than still image content.)

Total image and video downloads for Q3 were 43.9 million, up from 41.2 million a year earlier, but down from 45.2 million in Q2 2018. At the end of the quarter the company had 221 million images and 12 million videos or 233 million pieces of content in its collection. Compared to the 155.8 image and video collection a year earlier the collection expanded by about 49%.

More than 550,000 photographers, videographers, musicians, artists and designers have contributed to the Shutterstock collection. The company paid out 27.3% of net revenue in royalties or roughly $41.38 million. Thus, the average contributor earned about $75.23 in the quarter, or $301 annually. Of course, the vast majority of contributors earn much less from the imagery they have contributed and a very small percentage earn significantly more.

At the end of the quarter Shutterstock had about 1.9 million customers meaning that the average customer spent $79.78 with Shutterstock during the quarter. It seems obvious that many customers purchased nothing during the quarter.

Of the 550,000 million contributors about 2,500 to 3,000 have more than 10,000 images in the Shutterstock collection. Recently, I had the opportunity to examine the 2018 revenue of a contributor with slightly more than 10,000 images in the Shutterstock collection. This contributor also has most of the same images are with more than 18 other microstock collections and is on track to earn about $36,000 in 2018 from all microstock sources.

About 30% of this revenue will come from Shutterstock, 15% from AdobeStock and 15% from iStock. The other 40% is spread among the other 15 or so microstock sites. Compared to 2017 the Shutterstock revenue for this photographer is flat, AdobeStock is on the rise and iStock is in slight decline despite the fact that the photographer has been regularly contributing to all these collections.


Revenue generated through Shutterstock’s e-commerce platform increased approximately 8.5% as compared to the third quarter of 2017, to $88.7 million, representing 58.5% of total revenue in the third quarter of 2018. Revenue from enterprise customers increased approximately 14.1% as compared to 2017, to $62.9 million, representing 41.5% of total revenue in the third quarter of 2018.

Income from Operations

Income from operations of $6.7 million increased $1.1 million, or 20%, as compared to the third quarter of 2017, driven primarily by growth in revenues, which outpaced growth in operating expenses for the second consecutive quarter. Operating expenses increased $9.4 million, or 7%, primarily as a result of increased expenditures for sales and marketing, royalties and costs associated with our product development enhancements, including depreciation.

Net Income

Net income of $7.4 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, increased 49% for the third quarter of 2018 as compared with $5.0 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2017, primarily driven by the growth in income from operations, and a reduction in effective tax rate in the current period.

Future Outlook

Revenue guidance for all of 2018 has been lowered to $625M to $630M from the prior guide of $625M to $635M. Adjusted EBITDA guide was also tightened from $105M to $110M to $105M.

It is interesting to consider that with 233 million images in the collection and an expected $630 million gross revenue, with 27.3% of that paid in royalty ($171,990.000) to the 550,000 contributors, that the average contributor will have 424 images in the collection and earn $312.70 in 2018, or about $0.73 per image.


The chart below shows some of the trends in downloads, images in the collection and revenue growth since Q2 2016. Video downloads are not included in this calculation. (For earlier data going back to Q4 2013 see here.) The “Rev Per DL” is the “Downloads” times the “Avg Rev per DL). This differs slightly from “Total Rev.” because a small percentage of revenue comes from other activities not associated with stock content downloads. The The "Rev/Image" row is "the average revenue per image in the collection." For this figure, I divide total revenue by the sum of still images.

  Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3
  2016 2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 2017 2018 2018 2018
Downloads (millions) 43.4 41.2 41.1 43.5 42.7 41.9 43.9 43.7 45.2 43.9
Avg Rev per DL $2.81 $2.91 $3.02 $2.96 $3.05 $3.23 $3.33 $3.40 $3.41 $3.40
Images/video in collection 92.1 102.7 116.2 132 144.7 155.8 170.1 196.8 215.1 233
Total Rev. (millions) $124.3 $123.1 $130.2 $130.2 $134.0 $141.1 $151.8 $153 $156.6 $151.6
Rev. Per DL (millions) $121.95 $119.89 $124.12 $128.76 $130.24 $135.34 $146.19 $148.58 $154.13 $149.26
Rev/Image $1.34 $1.20 $1.12 $0.98 $0.93 $0.90 $0.89 $0.81 $0.73 $0.65
% Image Lic 47% 40% 35% 32% 30% 26% 25% 23% 21% 18%

    The "% Image Lic” row measures the odds that a single image in the collection will have been licensed one time within the quarter. To arrive at this number, I divide the total downloads by the number of images in the collection at the end of the quarter. This number is significant because it shows that new images are being added at a much faster rate than image downloads are increasing. For example, if a contributor had 1,000 images in the collection in Q2 2016 on average he would have had . In Q3 2018 a collection with 1,000 image would have only had . Back in Q4 2013 a contributor with a 1,000 image collection could have expected to see 860 downloads in a quarter.

Images In The Collection

One thing that is a little strange is how Shutterstock counts “images in the collection.” They say they have 221 million images and 12 million videos for a total of 233 million pieces of content in their collection. But these numbers are only for images in the Shutterstock collection. However, only part of the total revenue generated by the company comes from the Shutterstock collection.

They also have 40 million images in the Editorial collection and are adding 700,000 new images a month, but those images are not counted as part of the Shutterstock collection. They also have a huge number of images in the Bigstock collection. The Bigstock brand is separate from Shutterstock, but the revenue that brand generates is reported as part of total Shutterstock revenue.

A search of Bigstock indicates that there are 68,568,513 in the collection. Does that mean that 31% of the company's gross revenue comes from downloads from Bigstock? We also know a high percentage of the Bigstock images are also in the Shutterstock collection. It is unclear how many unique images are in Bigstock that can’t also be found in Shutterstock. If we search for “people” in Shutterstock we get 34,744,416 returns, but the same search in Bigstock only produces 14,108,874. There is no way to know how many of the 14 million images are unique to Bigstock.

When Shutterstock says that the average price per image licensed from the Shutterstock collection is $3.40, and that they licensed 43.9 million images in the quarter that comes to a total or $149,260,000. Since total revenue for the company was $151.6 million does that mean that total revenue generated by the Editorial collection and Bigstock during the quarter was only $2.34 million? Is Editorial growing significantly?

Shutterstock ended the trading day at $39.01 per share, down 12.63%.

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:  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff