Video Clip Market

Posted on 12/23/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

I get a lot of questions about the size of the video clip market and its potential for growth. There is very little hard data publicly available. Back in 2011 The Association of Commercial Stock Image Licensors (ACSIL) conducted a global survey to determine the size of the stock footage market.  They concluded that the total stock video revenue generated in 2010 was about $394 million. ACSIL believes the revenue generated in 2013 will be about the same.

There are two ways that clips might be produced. (1) They may be outtakes from a larger production where the videographer either worked on staff for a project (like a major motion picture, documentary or news event), or was paid a day-rate plus expenses incurred to produce the footage, and gave up all rights to the production company. (2) In the other instance the videographer identifies a subject he believes (hopes) will be in future demand, photographs it on speculation entirely at his own expense and makes it available for licensing through a distributor.

The major distributors of Category 2 footage are: Getty Inages, iStock, Shutterstock, Pond5 and T3Media. Other distributors with a smaller share of the market for Category 2 clips include: Corbis, and Fotosearch.

It is my understanding that a huge percentage of clips licensed were originally shot as part of a project (Category 1) where the videographer was paid for his time and skills. Then the producer makes the footage available to a distributor. The distributor identifies generic shots that might be of additional value and makes them available for licensing on a royalty basis.??Based on the ACSIL survey distributors and those who market clips directly to customers indicated the following breakdown of how their clips are used.

59% TV Programs long form documentaries and news
19% Advertising  
10% Corporate  
5% Edication  
4% Internet  
3% Other  

It is my guess that very little of the 59% used in long form documentaries and news was originally shot by videographers working on speculation.  Thus, only the 41% of the market dealing with Advertising, Corporate productions, Education and the Internet is available to those shooting on speculation.??

It is my understanding that there has been a significant decline in corporate use of clips over the last few years as more and more corporate customers produce what they need themselves.

On the Internet there certainly has been dramatic growth in the use of video, particularly by small and medium sized business. In many cases these projects use footage specifically shot for the project and seldom find a need for stock clips. They are often trying to reach a narrowly focused customer base and need something that shows their specific operation more than something generic that might be of higher quality. I also have the impression that if these businesses use clips they are more likely to get them from iStock or Shutterstock.

I suspect as Internet advertising becomes more targeted to smaller groups of customers (local instead of national and niche aimed at small groups of customers rather than advertising products like cigarettes, drugs and cars that are potentially used by a broad cross section of the population) generic clips will be of much less interest to customers. If they use clips at all they will be looking for very specialized subject that are only of interest to very small segments of the population.

Based on what Getty is telling debt investors their footage sales could be as high as $75 million. It is believed that this includes GI RR, GI RF and iStock RF. Some sources believe that sales of footage through the iStock site of content created by both iStock and the Getty contributors could total $25 million. It is believed that some of the Getty RR and RF content is being licensed through iStock, but it is unclear how much.

If iStock sales are really in the range of $25 million that would mean that the GI RR and GI RF sales on the Getty site would total about $50 million. If this is the case it indicates very little overall revenue growth for the use of GI RR and GI RF clips in the last decade. Getty was generating about $35 million annually way back in the early 2000s, a year or so after they took over the film division that had been built by The Image Bank. It should also be noted that a significant portion of Getty’s footage sales are Category 1 material that either Getty wholly owns, or was supplied by a historical archive, not footage that was shot on speculation where they pay a royalty.

It is unclear to me whether downloads have increased and prices fallen, as has certainly been the case in the still side of the business, or whether downloads have actually declined and prices have increased enough to make up for a lot of loss in downloads. I’m hearing both stories from image creators. I would have thought that the huge growth in supply would have caused prices to fall, but maybe there is still very little of the right supply that really fits the customer’s need.

When Shutterstock went public they indicated that footage and other things made up 4% of their revenue. That means a maximum of $8 million and maybe less for Shutterstock.
My sources think T3Media may be doing about $15 million in revenue, but they sell things other than footages so they are not sure what the footage component might be. They also think Pond5 generates less revenue than Shutterstock.
All in all, my guess is that the addressable market for stock footage shot on speculation is around $100 million worldwide and that Getty controls 65% to 75% of that market. 

Copyright © 2013 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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