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YouTube Analytics now tracks the site’s most important stat: Time watched

YouTube has shifted focus from total views to how long people spend watching a video, and the site’s new stats page reflects that.


Michelle Jaworski


It’s no longer about how many videos your viewers watch, but how long they stay once they’ve clicked.

YouTube has launched a number of improvements to YouTube Analytics and the search algorithm in the past few months, according to a post on the official YouTube Creators blog.

“Understanding what your audience likes is key to building a successful YouTube channel, so we’ve created more tools to help you interpret the performance of your videos,” YouTube Project Manager Ted Hamilton wrote.

YouTube’s search results are shifting to focus on how much time viewers spend watching a video, rather than how many times the video is clicked on, and the site’s analytics tools have also been updated to help video creators track the stats that now matter most.

To look at the number of minutes people spend watching your videos, simply click on “YouTube Settings,” then “Analytics” and find the “Views” button. This report will give you the data so that you can compare the number of views for a particular video to the estimated number of minutes that someone watched (as well as when someone stops watching).

If you’ve ever used annotations in your videos, you now have a way to see how often your viewers click or close the annotations you put on your video

The popular Analytic tool Data Slider, which allows you to view how a video performed during different spans of time, is also back.

Some of the changes have been in place for months, but the new additions to YouTube Analytics, part of an experiment to change the focus from views to watch time, plan to reward “engaging videos that keep viewers watching.”

“The experimental results of this change have proven positive—less clicking, more watching,” the YouTube Creators wrote on Friday. “We expect the amount of time viewers spend watching videos from search and across the site to increase. As with previous optimizations to our discovery features, this should benefit your channel if your videos drive more viewing time across YouTube.”

The new focus is leading some YouTube content creators to question just how the new rankings will work, but many are thrilled that they are now able to have more information about their audience.

Photo via codenamecueball/Flickr

The Daily Dot