VideoBlocks/Shutterstock Comparison

Posted on 7/31/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Can usage fees continue to drop? Most videographers think that Shutterstock’s prices for video clips at $19 for web use, $49 for an SD file, $79 for HD and $299 for 4K are about as low as prices could go. Any lower and videographers would no longer go to the trouble of creating new clips.

Now, for $99 a year customers can get unlimited downloads of clips from a 65,000 clip archive at VideoBlocks. But Shutterstock offers a lot more choice with almost 2 million clips, and maybe better quality. Thus, maybe VideoBlocks is no threat.

According to Jon Oringer, Shutterstock CEO, the average price of a video clip is about $60. Video revenue in Q4 2013 was about $3.74 million. That would place total downloads for the quarter at 62,333. Multiply that by 4 and we would get about 249,000 total downloads for 2013, but we know downloads were growing throughout 2013 so the actual number was probably quite a bit less. Oringer believes his company should be able to double total video revenue in 2014. That might mean as many as 500,000 total downloads a year at current prices. Based on these figures Shutterstock may have, by the end of 2014, one download annually for every four clips in their collection.

VideoBlocks on the other hand has 22,988,025 video downloads in less than 4 years. Currently, its customers are downloading about 28,000 clips per business day, or roughly 7,280,000 clips per year. This is 14 times what Shutterstock is projecting. Somehow, despite many fewer clips customers seem to be finding a lot of what they need at VideoBlocks. VideoBlocks is getting an average of about 110 downloads annually of every clip they have in their collection.

Best Sellers

Among the best sellers for VideoBlocks are backgrounds and After Effects clips. I assume the same is true for Shutterstock. VideoBlocks has 8,300 clips keyworded “backgrounds” and 579 After Effects images. Together they represent about 14% of VideoBlock’s total collection.

Shutterstock has 438,944 footage background clips and 2,949 After Effects images for a total of 22% of their footage collection. It is not clear what percentage of Shutterstock sales are for this type of material, but if VideoBlocks sales are any guide the percentage may be significant.

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.” (The stock business is about selling the same image multiple times, not producing something unique that can only be used by one or a few customers.)

In a number of cases (I haven’t been able to identify how many) the same clips can be found on both VideoBlocks and Shutterstock. It is unclear what kind of up-front fees VideoBlocks is paying for content.

When contributors have the same clips are on both sites one would think that VideoBlocks might begin to cannibalize some of their Shutterstocks sales. If a customer can find 2 to 5 clips a year on VideoBlocks that fulfill the customer’s needs it is worth having a VideoBlocks subscription, checking it first, and going to Shutterstock when they can’t find anything on VideoBlocks that will work.


The same relative comparisons hold true for GraphicStock. A lot of the GraphicStock illustrations can also be found on Shutterstock and other sites. A year’s subscription to download 25 images a day at Shutterstock is $2,559 while it only costs $99 a year for unlimited downloads of illustrations at GraphicStock.

We’re told that currently there are about 32,000 GraphicStock downloads per day from a collection of about 440,000 images. Shutterstock has 9,061,171 illustrations, 6,313,020 of which are background illustrations and 568 are After Effects. Thus, images keyworded “background” represent 16% of all the images on Shutterstock.

On GraphicStock 146,076 of the images are keyworded “backgrounds.” In addition, 19,953 are keyworded “After Effects.” Combined these two categories represent 38% percent of the GraphicStock collection.

It should also be noted that a little over a year ago Shutterstock said that one-third of their total downloads were for illustrations. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that a significant portion of Shutterstock’s gross revenue is for stock illustrations and footage that are used for backgrounds.

One takeaway is that a significant percentage of what stock image buyers want to purchase are images that can be used as backgrounds, or elements, in their final creation. These images are not be expected to be complete, stand alone, images that will be used as is.


The good news for photographers is that so far VideoBlocks has not moved into the still photography side of the business. If they start trying to acquire photos for a new site contributors should think hard about the upfront deals being offered, and whether the availability of their images at VideoBlocks' subscription prices will undercut the value of their images in other markets.

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:  


  • Anita Najda Posted Aug 1, 2014
    Shutterstock doesn't currently license After Effects templates - so the comparison is off.

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