How to Grow Your YouTube Watch Time: Essential Tips

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10 Min


30 Jul 2021

How to Grow Your YouTube Watch Time: Essential Tips

Looking for ways to increase your YouTube watch time and make viewing sessions longer? We’ll show you 8 best practices for real results.

What is Watch Time on YouTube?

YouTube watch time is the total amount of minutes viewers spend watching your videos. When counting watch time, the platform takes into account the playback speed. If a viewer speeds up your video 2x, watch time for this view will count two times less. Platform algorithms register real viewing time and not the time of the video.

Why is Watch Time So Important?

Watch time measures how interested your audience is. Likes and comments are also important but these are additional actions that depend on various factors: viewers might not wish to add them, video authors can influence the decision, etc. But watch time metrics depend solely on the quality of your content and nothing else. That’s why it affects your video ranking more than other metrics. YouTube prioritizes videos with higher watch time metrics in the Suggested section, viewers’ home page, and in the search.

Watch Time Stats in YouTube Analytics

You can check your channel’s watch time hours in the Analytics section.

YouTube Analytics Overview

This number is important for monetization purposes: you need 4000 hours of watch time and 1000 subscribers to access the monetization feature.

But to understand whether your watch time is strong or not to be prioritized by YouTube algorithms, you need to check your channel's Average view duration and Average percentage viewed. These two stats play a vital role in your videos’ promotion by the platform.

You can check these metrics in the Analytics section by specifying the time period; we recommend 90 days or more. It’s important to compare your metrics with average numbers in your niche to understand if your content is doing well in your specific segment. This data is restricted though, so you’ll need to refer to your partnering company for assistance.

Average view duration and Average percentage viewed

Next, you should compare the two average metrics for one of your videos with average metrics of your niche or a channel in your niche.

If the metrics are below or above the average, you should try to understand why. You can use the type of content that better engaged your audience in future videos. The view chart shows how your viewers watched the video at every given second.

Pay attention to the ups and downs on the chart and try to figure out what caused them. Maybe you had a mid-roll ad and this caused a decreased interest. Or maybe a fly flew into the scene and you made a funny gesture that your viewers thought was funny and rewatched this moment several times. Conclusion: in your next video, make a shorter ad or no ad at all and send two flies.

Or, maybe your video is too long and viewers lose interest before it ends. Or you change the topic and don’t pay enough attention to the subject. By studying your videos’ average view duration, you can understand what your audience enjoyed in your content and what changes you should make.

But to correctly make changes to your videos to increase performance, you need to have a good understanding of your channel's Analytics. Learn more about important metrics and their meaning in this video guide.

How to Increase Watch Time on a Specific Video?

First of all, you should pay attention to the video structure. It has to keep viewers interested throughout the entire video. You need to capture the attention of the audience within the first 10 seconds, explain what the video is about within 1 minute, and develop a theme within the remaining time.

Secondly, work on your video title and a thumbnail. They have to convey the topic of your video. Otherwise, after realizing it’s not something they’re looking for, your viewers will leave the page. This will negatively affect your statistics.

Thirdly, consider your video duration. It might seem quite logical that longer videos generate more watch time. Yes, it’s true but…when creating longer videos, the content quality must be preserved. You shouldn’t create long videos just for the sake of it when you don’t have enough to say or show to your viewers. Your longer videos should be as engaging and interesting as shorter ones.

And last but not the least, be interactive. One of the great ways to keep your viewers interested is with interaction and contests. Hide secret messages in the video, tell your viewers about them at the end of the video and promise a prize to the viewer who finds them. This will encourage people to rewatch your content.

How to Increase Watch Time on a Channel?

Creators worldwide have been successfully increasing their channel’s watch time with live streaming. The quality of content is especially a priority in this case. Just sitting and talking on-air might not interest your audience all that much. But playing a game against your viewers or together with them sounds like fun. Any thematic broadcast will be more engaging than a simple one where you’re answering questions. Your live stream needs to have a clear purpose and then your audience will watch it longer.

You can check the Analytics after the live stream ends. You can also check the number of viewers per minute. If you notice any sudden drops, you can check exactly when they happened during your live stream and try to figure out why.

How to Increase Watch Time with Viewing Sessions?

To increase watch time with viewing sessions, you can do the following:

  1. Create playlists. Organize your videos into thematic or serial playlists. Write a description using keywords so that users can find them and so that they get suggested by the platform. Place the most relevant and ranking playlists on the channel’s home page, so that a new viewer can start watching them. In this way, your viewers will have a chance to watch several videos from your playlist, instead of just one video.

  2. Add card teasers. If another one of your videos is connected or relevant to the current one playing, you should definitely mention it and provide a link. The main thing is not to mention it at the beginning of the video - either the viewer will not follow the link, or they will and, in this way, lower retention on the current video. Therefore, always add links towards the end of the video when viewers are ready to follow them, and it won’t negatively affect your current video.
  3. Use end screens. Add videos that are relevant to the viewer, and let them know that they can click on these videos as soon as they appear.

You can check your playlist metrics in the Analytics sections. The main thing is to pay attention to the average number of videos watched. Videos with a high watch time on the playlist mean they are well organized and viewers are interested.

The Analytics also shows CTR for card teasers, cards, and end screens.

CTR for card teasers, cards

These recommendations encourage you to approach watch time in a more strategic and proactive way and help you achieve the desired stats. Bottom line, don’t forget about the quality and relevance of your content and video metadata, and have fun interacting with your audience!