VideoBlocks: New Trends In Content Acquisition

Posted on 7/29/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Last week we published a story about AudioBlocks a new platform licensing royalty-free music by subscription. Today, I want to examine the parent company, VideoBlocks, that was launched in 2010 and licenses royalty-free video clips by subscription.

The company also has a third division called GraphicStock. GraphicStock was launched as a separate website in July 2013, markets illustrations via subscriptions and already has approximately 75,000 customers currently downloading about 32,000 illustration a day. In the past year customers have downloaded 7,393,654 illustrations.   

VideoBlocks (and its other two brands) has a unique strategy compared to most other stock photo distributors.

    1 – Instead of paying royalties based on the number of downloads they offer contributors a one-time upfront fee for unlimited, non-exclusive rights to distribute the content they acquire. There is no limit on how long they can distribute the content, or the prices they will charge for its use.
    2 – Rather than trying to offer customers the largest, most diverse collection of content, they focus on identifying the subjects that customers regularly request, based on the keywords they use to search for images. Then, they search the Internet, and other sources, for people who have produced such content, contact them, and negotiate for the rights to distribute some or all of the creator’s content.
    3 - In these negotiations they emphasize that the contributor is free to continue to license the same work directly or through any other distributors the contributor wants to deal with. They simply offer a one-time, supplementary bit of income.  
    4 – They charge customers a flat $99 annual subscription fee for unlimited downloads from their collection. They also offer a premium plan for $198 that gives some additional multi-seat rights to enterprise users. Customers may use the content they download forever and are not required to renew their subscriptions in order to continue to legally use the content. currently has about 65,600 clips and about 25,000 paying customers. These customers are currently downloading about 28,000 clips a day and have downloaded a combined total of 22,957,057 in a little less than four years. Thus, on average each clip has been downloaded about 350 times. The top selling clip has been downloaded 35,500 times. (Visitors to the site can get 7 days of free downloads which may explain why this clip has more downloads than VideoBlocks has video customers.) More than 40 clips have been downloaded more than 14,000 times.

In 2013 the company booked $13 million in sales and is projecting “strong double-digit growth over this number in 2014. With almost 100,000 total paying customers (VideoBlocks and GraphicStock together), the company is adding about 3,000 new customers a month. SEO brings in about half the new customers.

What's Selling?

Given VideoBlock’s efforts to focus their collection on a limited number of high demand subject (based on actual requests) it is surprising that a huge percentage of their downloads are of a very small percentage of their 65,600 clips. There have been 1,518,973 total downloads of the 100 most in demand clips. Thus, 6.68% of their downloads are from 2/10th of 1% of the clips in the collection.

Expanding my analysis to a random sample of the 1,312 most downloaded clips, I concluded that 22% of all downloads were of 1% of the clips and 29% were of only 2% of the clips represented. My bet is that 90% of their total downloads come from less than 10% of all their clips.

Backgrounds and After Effects

A huge percentage of the best selling clips are After Effects and backgrounds and yet there are only about 8,300 background images and 579 After Effects images. Half of the 50 top selling images are backgrounds and 12 are After Effects. All but the newest After Effects images have been downloaded more than 60 times.

On the other hand, I would have thought that some of the terms customers use most often when searching for clips would be “people,” “business,” “children” or “kids.” Currently they only have 102 clips of model released “kids,” 167 of “families,” 71 clips of “medical” and 5 of “office.”  In addition, most of these clips seem to be of very low quality compared to the general quality of the Backgrounds and After Effects on their site, or to the quality of clips using these keywords on Shutterstock or iStock.

Joel Holland, CEO of VideoBlocks said, “Our AE templates and motion backgrounds have been very popular because of their generic nature and broad usage ability amongst members. People footage is not something we have ever focused on (we have a very small amount and may in fact take that down) because customers demand very specific content in this area.”

A video editor who creates a lot of short promotional videos for small business and the Discovery Channel had the following comments about VideoBlocks:

“VideoBlocks was on our list of vendors to look at recently. We almost considered them for a bit, but they really don’t have the quality stuff we need…not that it’s all bad, they have an OK selection for 20-30 videos of the theme/category you want, but when it boils down to it the footage falls of the quality ledge pretty quickly!  It’s really hit or miss with these micro/subscription stock sites…eventually they get bought out by someone else, triple their prices, and you start all over :).”

Copyright © 2014 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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