What you need to know about YouTube watch time

by Edwin

For most people, YouTube is one of the best ways to unwind after a long day, or even just to pass the time. Even after 15 years of existence, it remains the biggest video sharing platform, ever! There are two major groups of people who make YouTube what it is, the majority who watch billions of hours of content every day, and the creators that make that possible. for most creators, having 4000 hours watch time on YouTube is a dream come true

If you’re reading this, you’re probably part of the latter group. If that’s the case, you have likely heard about YouTube watch time during your preparation to start your very own channel. What does it mean? And why should you be bothered?

What is YouTube watch time?

YouTube watch time, in technical terms, refers to the total amount of time people have spent watching a video you have uploaded to the platform. If you upload a 10-minute video to YouTube, and one person watches 8 out of the 10 minutes, your total watch time is 8 minutes. Your watch time will be 10 minutes only if that person watches the entire video. Now if you get 100 people to watch that entire video, your watch time is 100 × 10 minutes = 1000 minutes. Now you understand how YouTube watch time is calculated, you might be wondering why you should care.

Why YouTube watch time matters

If you have any intention of monetizing your content on YouTube, you’re going to want to pay attention. A couple of years back, YouTube implemented a policy that a channel needs to have accumulated a total of 4000 hours of watch time from all its videos put together, as well as 1000 subscribers for it to apply for monetization.

After a channel has achieved these requirements, it can then apply to be reviewed by YouTube, and if approved, ads can be placed on videos from that channel. YouTube defended the new policy by describing it as a way for the company to ensure that new channels follow the company’s guidelines. This way, YouTube can identify those who contribute positively to the platform and support them with more revenue.

This is all good and fine unless you’re a new content creator! 4000 hours may not seem like much until you start. It can be extremely difficult to even get noticed in the beginning. And for you to get 4000 hours of watch time from your 10-minute video, you would need 24,000 people to watch it completely from start to finish! This is usually one of the biggest hurdles for new channels because they have to battle with an ever-increasing pool of content creators.

Also, YouTube has been very clear about the impact watch time will have on how much your video is recommended to new viewers.


So if you’re just starting as a content creator on YouTube, your first goal should be to hit that 4000-hour mark as soon as you can. After you do, set another goal for even more hours. That way you’ll remind yourself to stay relevant, and you’ll be closer to succeeding on one of the biggest online platforms to date.

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