Apparently, Getty Images is no longer in love with its entertainment division. Word in the street is that all the top executives of that branch, Vince Bannon, VP of Strategic Partnerships and Georges DeKeerle, Sr. Director EMEA have been given the pink slip. And there might be more. 

The reasons are not clear. Some say that the celebrity division, created in-house and reinforced by the acquisitions of both ImageDirect and Wireimage in later years was losing money, upwards to $1 million a year. Partly because, it seems, it was accepting to cover jobs for low fees that were not later covered by licensing sales.  What we know is that the division recently lost a beneficial agreement with Variety which went to its competitor, Shutterstock.

What we also know is that the market for celebrity pictures has dramatically decreased in the last five years. Weekly publications, which was the bread and butter of this industry, have lost massive amounts of readers to free websites (whose rates are much lower) and, in turn, have cut their photo budgets. Celebrity photos, which used to be the rich siblings of the editorial space, no longer carry their weight in hard cash. Celebrity photo agencies worldwide have seen dwindling sales, forcing some to close and others to downsize. While the appetite for celebrity photos has not been reduced, it has been strongly impacted by the rise of social media ( where fans can now feed themselves directly on photos posted by celebrities) and by the cheap volume-based pricing favored by online publications.

At a time when Getty Images is preparing to launch its consumer base offering, this move can be seen as surprising, as celebrity content, with sports, still attracts large amounts of eyeballs. Getty Images is not closing its celebrity department as it would make no sense for them to stop their coverage. They still maintain their agreement with Hollywood Reporter, which brings them similar privileges as the one they had with Variety.  Rather instead, this move may be due to a corporate restructuring,  a refreshing of some sort, to re-organize a department that was based on obsolete rules. Chances are that we will see new hires (or, if not, an internal reshuffling) that will make its structure more nimble, less top heavy and cheaper to operate. As for those who departed, it might not be a surprise to find some re-emerging at key positions at Shutterstock or other competitors.

 

Photo by christopherharte

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