The Association of Commercial Stock Image Licensors (ACSIL)  has recently completed a survey of the worldwide stock footage industry and outlined their findings in a very comprehensive and detailed 259-page study entitled “ACSIL Global Survey of Stock Footage Companies 2007.”
This report provides an important baseline for further analysis of the footage industry in the future and is a must-read for anyone engaged in, or considering entering, this market. As photographers and stock image sellers look to the future, it is also important to recognize that the demand for video imagery is likely to increase, while the demand for stills may decrease.
The report comes to the conclusion that the gross revenue for the industry worldwide is $282 million annually. Though individual company revenues were not disclosed as part of the survey, it is known from other published sources that Getty Images is the largest, with footage revenue of $43.19 million in 2006. Other top competitors include BBC, ITN, Thought Equity, Corbis and Artbeats.
Types Of Footage
Still photographers tend to think of stock footage as primarily clips of people and lifestyle, nature and scenics. However, of the total industry, only 31 percent of the companies generating 37 percent of the revenue were doing that type of work. Other companies were involved in news, archival, sports, natural history, arts and feature film clips. The stock footage category includes model-released premium images, time-lapse, aerials, animations and backgrounds and footage shot for stock.
Importantly, the report shows that over 90 percent of the available footage of all types was initially shot for other purposes, rather than being shot specifically for stock. This is a critical factor for photographers funding the production of stock footage to consider, because the market they are addressing is much smaller than the total market. Footage funded on a shot for other purposes where the videographer does not have to recover any of his production investment can be sold at much lower prices (which then tend to set the price level for the industry), and still allow the photographer to realize a profit.
The two largest geographic markets are the U.S. and the U.K. It is estimated that 60.4 percent or approximately $170 million of sales comes from 172 U.S. companies, and 22.5 percent or approximately $63 million of sales comes from the 86 U.K. companies, for a total of 82.9 percent of all revenue. Germany, France, Canada and Australia are the next largest users of stock footage.
Television remains the dominant market for footage providers, representing 65.7 percent of sales. National and local advertising was the second-most important market, accounting for 10.1 percent of revenue. Corporate accounted for just 7.2 percent.
Complex License Agreements
In the still photo industry, there has been a steady move away from complex license agreements, first with RF and lately with RR and micropayment and the introduction of PLUS for negotiating rights for RM.
The footage industry seems to be faced with the same issue. The report said that many companies believe that “complex license agreements/non-standard rights language” are obstructing the growth of the footage industry as a whole. The ACSIL concluded that “simplifying procedures such as licensing would help expedite customer education, thereby expanding the market.”
(Image from the Elite Video  stock footage library.)
[tags]stock footage, Jim Pickerell[/tags]