Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Getty Images and Bloomberg - Futurescape

Let's say you're Getty images, and you have to pay a staffer $350 a day, plus gear and other overhead, to cover an event, which would amount to about $600 a day. From that event, let's say you have fifteen $25 sales of your wholey-owned content, or, even worse, 100 images fit the bill for a subscription model, where the per-image attribution is $1.50. That's maybe about $200 in revenue from your wholey-owned content. Couldn't you cut out that $600 expense and do it cheaper?

What if you were distributing the images of Agence France Press (AFP) and Bloomberg who have their own photographers and wholey-owned content, and they wanted to use the Getty distribution pipleline to reach more customers? Getty recently announced here that they would be the editorial distributor for Bloomberg News images.

Now, as a Getty staffer covering an event, you need to be looking at both the AFP and Bloomberg photographers as your competition. Note - I am not talking about the healthy competition between, say, the AP and Reuters and AFP, but actually, competition for whether or not you get to keep your job. This is because, if you're not careful, some green-eyeshade-wearing actuary will do the math and realize that carrying editorial staff photographers just might not be economically sound, and as Getty recently shuttered their creative photography division (as we reported here), so too might the agregated revenue from AFP and Bloomberg prove that they can do without editorial staff photographers.
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While theses employees are a significant revenue stream for Getty, they may not meet the profit targets that Hellman and Friedman have for Getty before they try to sell their entire library to Google or Yahoo. Don't think it could happen? Dan Heller, just a few weeks ago wrote here - Might Picscout Ultimately Cause Yahoo to Acquire Getty? - about this very possibility. While Dan and I come at things from differing perspectives, I often enjoy reading what he has to say. Trust me when I say this - the ONE thing Yahoo/Google don't want to do, is have photographers on their payroll.

What about all those contracts with the sports leagues? Each of those teams has their own photo departments, and Getty under a Yahoo/Google could just become a distribution point for those pre-existing teams. I know, it's complicated, but when cost savings, and profits from IP are the topics of conversation, smart business people figure out how to cut costs. More than one time I have been at an event where there was a WireImage, FilmMagic, Getty, and AFP photographer covering an event, and everyone looks around scratching their heads - that is essentially 3.5 photographers covering ONE event, that normally would be covered by one. Why not scratch the WireImage, FilmMagic and Getty photographers, and be the distribution point for the AFP and Bloomberg images from that event? That's essentially the same revenue as 1 photographer. Don't think that the bean counters haven't thought about this.

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