What Is Watch Time?
As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, watch time is the total sum of minutes people spent watching your videos. Your YouTube watch time involves two key factors:
- Video Watch Time: meaning the total amount of minutes people spent watching a certain video of yours.
- General Watch Time: meaning the total amount of minutes people spent on YouTube’s platform and consumed content.
While #1 is your direct video watch time, #2 refers to general watch time on the platform, not necessarily watching your videos. This means that if someone watched your video and then fell down a YouTube rabbit hole and spent even more time watching other people’s videos, it still has an effect on your channel and content because you will get promoted.
When Did “Watch Time” Come Into Effect?
Since October 2012, watch time has become the number one metric that YouTube takes into account when deciding whether to promote content on the platform or not. Watch time is also crucial if you want to monetize your channel. You’ll need 4,000 hours of watch time over the span of one year to be approved for the YouTube Partner Program to start monetizing your videos.
Why Is Watch Time So Important?
YouTube was never shy about letting creators know that they prefer to rank and promote videos with a lot of watch time, saying that:
“The longer you can keep people watching on YouTube because of your content, the more your content may get surfaced.”
Or in other words – the more watch time your channel and content generate and accumulate, the better your chances are to get promoted and suggested by YouTube’s algorithms. This, in turn, means more exposure for you – leading ultimately to more subscribers, viewers, and better ad revenue.
How To Find Out What Your Watch Time Is On YouTube
To Find Your Overall Channel Watch Time
- Go to Your YouTube Studio and click on Analytics
- In your analytics section, click on Watch Time to reveal your overall channel watch time over the last 28 days.
To Find A Specific Video’s Watch Time
- Go to your YouTube Studio and click on Videos
- Next, hover with your mouse over any video and click on the little graph icon
- Then, in the overview tab, click on Watch Time
6 Proven Ways To Increase Your Video Watch Time
1 – Posting Schedule
Having a consistent posting schedule can increase your watch times by managing your audience’s expectations. When creating your posting schedule, make sure to:
- Be specific about your schedule. If your subscribers know you upload a new video every Tuesday, they’ll check your channel every Tuesday for a new video.
- Make your uploading schedule public. Post your schedule somewhere people can see it. For example, you can use your channel banner and description to post your upload schedule, mention it in your intro, and even use your channel description to let your viewers know when you upload new videos.
Jenna and Julien, for examples, posted their upload schedule in their banner, letting everyone know they should expect videos from them every Monday:
AmandaRachLee took to her channel description to write out her posting schedule:
- Set realistic goals for your upload schedule. Remember, there’s a lot of work that goes into creating a YouTube video. You have to be realistic with the amount of time you have on your hands to dedicate to your channel. After all, the goal isn’t to burn out and quit YouTube.
2 – Playlists
- A playlist is a collection of videos, curated by a user on YouTube – be it the creator or just a casual YouTube user.
- Each playlist is individual and unique and everyone can create playlists on YouTube.
- People on YouTube choose to play playlists over individual videos because they can’t be bothered to search for other, similar videos every time a video ends.
- So, if people are watching a video that’s a part of a playlist, they’re very likely to watch the next one on that list.
3 – Cards And End Screens
- End screens are thumbnail overlays that appear on the last 5-20 seconds of your video.
- They’re used to encourage viewers to take the desired action – watch another video, subscribe to a channel, or watch an entire playlist.
- YouTube cards appear at any point in your video and can include images, video links, outside links, and even downloadable content.
- You can add up to 5 cards in a video, and unlike end screens, cards can be displayed on mobile devices as well as desktop.
4 – The Right Intro
- Most viewers drop after 15 seconds, so to increase watch time, you want to make those 15 seconds count.
- Make sure you mention your video’s topic and explain what you will be showing in your video – but keep it short and sweet.
5 – Use Better Thumbnails And Titles
- Video titles and thumbnails are the first things people see when they search and discover something to watch on YouTube.
- Both titles and thumbnails are supposed to “lure” the viewers into your video by “teasing” what the video is about.
- Having a great thumbnail and writing a great video title could really affect your video’s CTR (Click-Through-Rate) from YouTube’s search engine as well as from external search engines like Google.
- Higher CTR will lead to more views, and if your titles and thumbnails accurately represent your content – it will lead to more watch time, as well.
6 – Create High-Quality Content
- It doesn’t matter if you’re an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert anymore because there’s more to ranking on YouTube than sheer SEO.
- Nowadays, YouTube’s algorithms can watch your content and listen to it to decide whether or not they should promote your content on the platform.
- So, there’s more to YouTube than optimizing meta-tags – you have to optimize your content, too.
- Optimizing your content means making sure it’s engaging and interesting. To do so, you have to make sure your video is dynamic.
- You can do this by adding pattern interrupts and hooks to your videos.
- Pattern interrupts are small changes in filming and editing that keep your video interesting, dynamic, and engaging for the viewers.
- Another thing you can do is create a great hook for your video. Your hook needs to grab the audience’s attention during the first 15-30 seconds of your video.
- Finally, you can upload your video to TuBeast’s AI Video Analysis tool to check for any mistakes or issues in your content. Our AI will find every issue in your video and explain how you can fix those issues. This way, you can create videos that are optimized both for people and for the algorithms!