As consumers rely on subscriptions in more and more parts of their day-to-day lives, Getty Images is the latest to see memberships surge, but this increase is contributing to a decline in one-off purchases.
The content creator and marketplace shared in its recent third-quarter financial report that, even as revenue declined slightly, subscriber counts skyrocketed, with the addition of more than 95,000 new annual subscribers marking an 88% increase year over year. The bulk of this growth came through its eCommerce platforms, including those of its iStock and Unsplash brands.
In fact, many of these consumers are people who have never before been paying customers.
“That growth in annual subscribers is something we feel really good about. … It’s our fourth straight quarter where we’ve seen the year-on-year growth in that count being north of 50%, and at its face value, that’s a great metric,” Getty Images CFO Jen Leyden told analysts on the company’s earnings call. “But when you pull that apart, at least 50% in the quarter of the new annual subscribers that we’ve taken on are new customers to Getty Images.”
The company’s revenue from subscription products has also been on the rise, accounting for 55.9% of total revenue in the third quarter, up from 49.4% in the same period last year. This growth in subscription revenue is driven by increased adoption of Premium Access, which grants the ability to use content from the company’s extensive library, as well as its eCommerce subscription offerings.
Notably, despite this surge in subscriber acquisition, the company has seen a slight decline in its annual subscriber revenue retention rate, down to 95% from 103%, which CEO Craig Peters attributed to “our push into smaller subscriptions,” which tend to “have a naturally lower rate of revenue retention.”
Indeed, many software and digital service subscriptions are seeing strong membership growth. Duolingo, for instance, reported earlier this month that it has seen a 160% surge in subscribers in the past two years. Snapchat has been seeing subscriber growth for its Snapchat+ subscription by the millions. OpenAI had so many signups for its ChatGPT Plus program that it had to put new subscriptions on hold.
Overall, consumers are increasingly relying on connected devices. PYMNTS Intelligence’s study “How the World Does Digital: Daily Digital Engagement Hits New Heights,” which drew from a survey of more than 17,500 respondents in 11 markets that account for 50% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), found year-over-year increases in the digital transformation of eight in 10 areas of consumers’ daily lives.
Notably, however, when consumers’ budgets come under pressure, many cut back on unnecessary subscriptions. The PYMNTS Intelligence report “The One-Stop Bill Pay Playbook: Drivers of Consumers’ Bill Payment Priorities,” created in collaboration with Mastercard, which drew from a survey of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, noted that half of all consumers would cancel their membership subscriptions if they were unable to pay all their bills. In contrast, only 19% said that they would prioritize paying these bills in full.