YouTube watch time

How To Increase Views On YouTube Using The Watch Time Counter

Your first question might be “just what is YouTube watch time and how does it effect me”?

To understand YouTube Watch Time you first have to understand how YouTube sees itself.

You might think of your YouTube channel as somewhere to post your videos to reach your subscribers/viewers etc.

YouTube thinks of itself as competing with TV for people’s attention.

Therefore the most important metric to YouTube is how long it can keep people on the platform.

This is what Watch Time is about.

When you look at your YouTube Analytics you’ll see a watch time figure.

This is your YouTube channel watch time counter.

youtube watch time counter

How does YouTube calculate the number of hours watched?

It simply your number of Views multiplied by your Average View Duration.

But that is not how YouTube reads Watch Time.

How it reads watch time is NOT just how many video views and how long, but how long does a person remain on the YouTube platform once they have viewed your video.

This is a much more complicated bunch of metrics.

These comprise:

1)    Session Starts:

This is when your video starts someone’s YouTube session

2)    Session Duration:

How long a person stays on the YouTube platform for that session. This includes all the videos they watch, not only yours, in that session.

How the content they view relates to your videos.

3)    Session Ends:

What this counts, is how many times one of your videos is the last one watched during a session.

4)    Upload Frequency:

This is how often you upload your videos.


Session Starts.

How does YouTube decide where to place your video in YouTube Browser and Suggested Videos?

The performance of your video in the first two days after publication influences where YouTube places your video.

One of the key metrics appears to be the percentage of your channel subscribers who view during a set period of time, normally the first 24-48 hours.

The ideal way to improve this metric is to

1) Ensure that your subscribers view your new content within the first 24-48 hours.

Make sure you tick “notify subscribers” button. Try to publish at the same time every day/week. Subscribers will then know when to look out for your new content.

notify subscribers youtube

2) Achieve a high level of legitimate views via the YouTube browser page. This is viewers finding your content through the YouTube search box.

Does watching the same YouTube video multiple times from the same user account or IP address increase its view count?

Yes, it does in the short term.

Then YouTube will figure out what you’re up to and penalize you. You may want to encourage “friends” to view your video via this means in the first 45 hours after upload!

If you do this, ask your friends to find your video using your keyword title.

If you have an email list you can tell your list subscribers you’ve published a new YouTube video.

3) YouTube ads. YouTube treats your video ads the same way it treats your videos. That is, the person viewing has to watch at least 30 seconds of the video for it count .

Video discovery ads (the ones that sit at the top of the search rankings for your keyword) give you the best chance of starting off a users single session.

If your ad’s video content links closely with the videos below in search this will extend the session duration. Plus you get the benefits of advertising views while improving your video watch time.

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Session Duration

Session duration is a metric NOT supplied by YouTube.

So, how do you calculate Session Duration?

This is a rough calculation guide. It is not exact but provides a useful guide.

how to increase youtube views

First, calculate your views per unique viewer.

There’s no exact way of doing this but a good approximation is to divide your total views over a period by the number of unique viewers.

You can find both these figures in your YouTube analytics.

Next, extract your average view duration from your Analytics.

Then multiply your views per unique viewer by average view duration.

This is your average session duration.

It’s an inexact figure but a useful guide.

Here you should try and increase both the number of unique viewers and the average view duration.

You can increase your average view duration by:

Clever use of “cards” for call outs in your video. Most viewers will, on average, drop out before half way through your video. In fact 50% view average is pretty good!

Place your call out for other related videos at about 40% of the way through your video. At this point your viewer may have seen enough of that particular video topic, but will be receptive to related video ideas


Add End Screens for those who watch your video to the end. Here you can place links to closely related video content.

Use of both these techniques will increase your session duration.

youtube end screens and cards

Session Ends:

This, apparently, is one of the metrics used by YouTube. But we have no way of measuring it at present.

But if you have compelling video content, say, a video playlist with links to similar videos, you may be able to start and end a users session.


Upload frequency:

According to YouTube Academy “Publishing regularly also provides more opportunities for your videos to surface in YouTube’s automated recommended and related video sections.”


To improve your video/channel watch time, upload new videos on a regular basis. If you can do this every couple of days that’s great.

This gives YouTube more content to show your viewers and therefore will result in more views.

But if you can only do one a week or one a fortnight due it at a regular day/time.

A word of warning here. Your content must be good and relevant to your viewers.

Posting quantity at the expense of quality will result in your average view duration dropping.

So any gains you get by publishing frequently, will not stick because you will experience a drop in view duration.

Upload as regularly as you can but ensure the content will hold your viewers’ attention.


In summary, YouTube Channel Watch Time is complicated but is seen as a vitally important metric by YouTube.

The three components you can work on are:

Session Starts (views from subscribers, friends and YouTube search)

Session Duration (good content and good use of End Screens/Cards)

Upload Frequency (quantity, quality and regularity).

Concentrate on these areas while delivering content that will retain your viewers and watch your YouTube statistics rise.

In answer to the original question  “just what is YouTube watch time and how does it effect me?”

YouTube watch time is one of the major YouTube video metrics, if not the most important if you want to increase views on YouTube.

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