Difference Between Views and Watch Time

Oct 19, 2020


If you've done any research into YouTube marketing, chances are you've heard the terms views and watch time. What is the difference between views and watch time, and which of these is the most important for growing a YouTube channel? After all, you don't want to devote your attention to the wrong thing!

Views are delivered whenever a viewer watches a minimum of 30 seconds of a video, and watch time is delivered as a viewer watches a video. Views and watch time are closely related to each other and are often mentioned during the same conversations. You cannot gain watch time without getting views, so it's important not to neglect one or the other.

Becoming familiar with both views and watch time is important as a content creator. Knowing which metric holds more weight and how each metric works can help you make data-driven decisions to grow your channel. Striving just for views or just for watch time is never a good strategy, so learning how to increase both metrics is recommended.

What Is Considered a View on YouTube


You might be wondering, what is considered a view on YouTube? After all, every platform has different requirements for a view to be counted. Facebook, for example, counts a view after a viewer watches a video for a minimum of 5 seconds. Is this the same with YouTube, or does YouTube work differently?

YouTube counts a view after a viewer watches a video for a minimum of 30 seconds. If a viewer watches a video for less than 30 seconds, then a view is not counted. This might seem like a downgrade from a platform that counts views after fewer seconds, however, viewer quality tends to be higher on YouTube due to the set requirements.

Many content creators used to use thumbnails and titles that did not reflect the subject matter of their videos. This was done to get more clicks, thus leading to more views. Many viewers would click on a video and exit it very quickly after realizing that the video wasn't what it seemed, but a view would still be counted. Nowadays, this isn't the case.

It's important as a content creator that you encourage viewers to watch at least the first 30 seconds of your videos. This task might seem like it would be easy to do, but you'd be surprised at how many viewers drop off before the 30-second mark of a video. Remember, if viewers don't make it to the 30-second mark, no view will be counted.

What Is Watchtime on YouTube


Watch time on YouTube is gained by getting views. Meaning, when a viewer watches your video, you gain watch time. However, you cannot gain any watch time if you do not get any views. This is why views and watch time are typically mentioned in the same conversations- they heavily impact each other.

Watch time on YouTube is usually measured in both minutes and hours. A watch time hour is 60 watch time minutes, and vice-versa. It doesn't matter what measurement you use, but watch hours are becoming more frequently referred to than watch time minutes due to YouTube's monetization requirements including 4,000 watch hours.

Is Watch Time More Important Than Views


Now that you know what both views and watch time are, you might be asking yourself: Is watch time more important than views? Or, are views more important than watch time on YouTube? I believe I have a different answer to this question then the answer most people give, but I have a good reason for this.

Most people state that watch time is more important than views. While this is true from an algorithmic standpoint, as the YouTube algorithm values watch time more than views, views cannot be ignored. Technically, an argument could be made that views are more important than watch time, as you cannot gain any watch time without getting views.

Both views and watch time are equally important. A content creator should strive to get as many views as possible and as many watch time minutes as possible. Getting 1 million views is no good if little watch time is gained, but views shouldn't be ignored in favor of watch time, as an easy way to get more watch time is to get more views.

Views, watch time, and average view duration all works off of each other. Meaning, each of these 3 metrics affects the other. This is why as a creator, focusing on maximizing 1 particular metric isn't the best strategy. However, you might, for example, need to figure out how to improve your average view duration to get more watch time.

When Did Watch Time Become So Important

A lot of content creators ask me: "When did watch time become so important?" Believe it or not, watch time became important between 2012 and 2013. Back then, major changes happened at YouTube as Google got more involved in the operations of the platform. One of the biggest changes made during this time was the introduction of the watch time metric.

Before this major change, views and engagements were the most important metrics. Metrics such as watch time and average view duration were non-existent (publicly, at least). However, Google and YouTube recognized that for them to be able to monetize the platform effectively, they were going to have to make some adjustments.

At the end of the day, the longer users can be kept on-site, the more ads they can be shown. Ads being shown to users earn money for YouTube and Google, so you can probably see why watch time has become such an important metric. This change back from 2012 to 2013 worked, as YouTube now makes a significant amount of money through advertising.


Views and watch time are both major metrics in association with the YouTube algorithm. Both metrics will contribute to your success or lack of success on YouTube. There is a big difference between views and watch time, but both of these metrics affect each other. More views lead to more watch time, and more watch time leads to more views.

Daniel James
Hi there! I’m Daniel, the founder, and CEO of Tubefluence. I help businesses and influencers utilize the power of YouTube marketing to grow an audience and generate leads.
TubeRanker offers the ultimate toolset for Creators & Marketers to optimize their videos against the YouTube algorithm and rank higher in YouTube & Google searches and recommendation engines.
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