• iStockphoto Pioneers Lucrative Microstock Video Marketplace

    A lot of my time at VideoNuze is spent exploring how broadband's massive penetration has opened up new opportunities for video distribution to consumers. But a recent conversation with Kelly Thompson, COO of iStockphoto served as a reminder that broadband is also beginning to play an important role for professionals seeking stock video footage.

    For those not familiar, the "stock" industry refers to photographs, images, audio and video that creators make available for use by others under various license arrangements. Stock assets are often used by creative professionals in lieu of having to create their own because of time and expense limitations.

    iStockphoto pioneered a new "microstock" online marketplace which allows stock assets to be downloaded for as little as a dollar apiece. The company has grown rapidly, anticipating $200M in revenues this year delivering over 30M assets, or about 1 every second of every day. iStockphoto splits between 20-40% of each download fee with its contributors depending on terms the contributor has chosen. This year it will pay out over $60M to thousands of contributors. Kelly noted that some contributors' whole income is derived from iStockphoto payments (top contributors can make $300K-400K/year). Getty Images, the largest stock house in the world, bought iStockphoto in 2006 for $50M.

    What caught my eye is iStockphoto's move into stock video distribution. Though video has been available for just 3 years, Kelly anticipates it will account for $20M or 10% of revenues in '09. Kelly explained that there's been a massive increase in the need for stock video, as demand for it to be included in PowerPoint presentations, web sites and online campaigns has surged.

    Buying stock video at iStockphoto is easy. After setting up an account, you enter keywords or just browse the video catalog. You're presented with thumbnail images, which expand to play the full video when you roll over them. Payments are made using "credits," iStock's currency. Videos are offered in different quality and prices, depending on the user's needs. A lower res video might be around $15 to download while the same in HD quality might be $75.

    Kelly explained that widespread broadband access and inexpensive HD cameras that produce amazing video are the key contributors to making iStock's stock video downloads take off. With the market for stock video growing rapidly, competition is heating up from well-funded players like Fotolia and Thought Equity Motion, which specializes in video collections from premium providers like MGM Studios, National Geographic and NBC News.

    Still, with broadband's rise, and now mobile video's increasing popularity, the market for stock video seems like it has a lot of growth ahead. Clever companies continue to recognize how broadband creates different types of opportunities to distribute video to various end users.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.