Is Watch Time Important on YouTube?

Oct 11, 2020


There are a lot of metrics that content creators should pay attention to on YouTube. One such metric is watch time. Is what time important on YouTube? Or, is another metric like average view duration more worth concentrating on? Along with this, do creators get paid for watch time as they do for views, or are they only paid for views?

Watch time is incredibly important on YouTube. YouTube's goal is to keep users on their website for as long as possible. This is so more advertisements can be shown to users, leading to more money for YouTube. When your videos cause users to stay on YouTube for a long time, YouTube rewards you. This leads to increased channel growth and exposure.

While watch time is a very important metric, it's important to recognize that some other metrics of importance exist as well. It's in your best interest to get as many watch time minutes as possible, but not if it causes your average view duration to decrease. But why is this? Keep reading to find out!

What's the Basic Definition of Watch Time


Sometimes, I'm guilty of explaining YouTube-related topics in an overly complicated manner. I try not to do this, but sometimes it happens. To avoid making this mistake, I'm going to answer this particular question as simply as I possibly can. The question is: What's the basic definition of watch time?

Watch time is the total amount of time, usually counted in minutes or hours, that viewers spend watching your YouTube videos. Watch time is monitored at the channel level and the video level. Meaning, watch time for an entire YouTube channel is monitored, and watch time for individual videos is also monitored.

A channel's total watch time consists of all of the watch time minutes accumulated across every video uploaded. The watch time of a video consists of the watch time minutes accumulated by only the particular video at hand. Typically, when watch time is referred to, it is referred to at the channel level.

Over the years, the vocabulary used to describe watch time has changed. Watch time, watch time minutes, and watch hours are the same thing. Each of these variations simply measures watch time differently. Usually, this is done when discussing the 4,000 watch hours requirement for channels to join the YouTube Partner Program.

Watch Time vs Average View Duration


Whenever we speak of watch time, we must also speak of average view duration. Both of these metrics are closely related to each other. The reason for this is, average view duration directly impacts the amount of watch time minutes that are gained on a YouTube video and across an entire channel.

As you'll know from above, watch time is the total amount of time that viewers spend watching your videos on YouTube. Average view duration, however, is the length of time a viewer watches a video. The longer a viewer watches a video, the more watch time minutes that are gained. This is why there two metrics are closely related to each other.

It is important to note that average view duration and audience retention are also very similar metrics. So, when we speak of average view duration in relation to watch time, it's important to recognize that audience retention relates to watch time in a very similar manner.

Is Watch Time More Important Than Average View Duration

Both watch time and average view duration are important metrics. If you do not accumulate a lot of watch time minutes, you will struggle to grow. If you have a poor average view duration, you will struggle to grow. But which of these two metrics is more important for growing a YouTube channel?

Most people would say that watch time is a more important metric than average view duration. To a degree, this is correct. The problem is, a lot of content creators try to take shortcuts to gain more watch time minutes. This leads to less success, as just because a video is 20 minutes long, it doesn't mean it will gain more watch time than a 10-minute video.

While watch time is more important in the grand scheme of things, if you neglect average view duration you will not achieve success. Along with this, a better average view duration will result in more watch time minutes being gained. This is why it's in the best interest of every content creator not to just put out longer videos in hopes of gaining more watch time.

Does YouTube Pay for Watch Time


When monetizing videos with Google AdSense, a content creator will be paid for every monetized view their video receives. But does YouTube pay content creators for watch time as well? No, YouTube does not pay for watch time or anything else for that matter. Monetized views are the only thing that content creators get paid money for by YouTube.

Of course, watch time does impact how much a content creator earns to some degree due to the ability to place multiple ads on monetized videos. The longer a viewer watches a video, the more ads they can be shown if multiple ads are used. Multiple ad impressions lead to more money for the content creator, so getting higher video watch time is always beneficial.

Also, more watch time does lead to more YouTube channel growth, which can lead to more monetized views over time. If we keep things simple, however, no- YouTube does not pay directly for watch time or anything else. YouTube only pays a content creator for monetized views on videos that are monetized and feature ads.


Is watch time important on YouTube? Yes, it is important. However, the pursuit of watch time minutes must not cause a content creator to neglect other metrics like average view duration. Just because a 20-minute video can gain more watch time than a 10-minute video, it doesn't mean it will if the quality of the 20-minute video is lower than the 10-minute video.

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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