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How YouTube Public Watch Hours Work | Tips To Acquire More Time

In this guide, we’ll discuss the solid strategies for you to hit YouTube Public Watch Hours and start monetizing your content. That’s if you want to join the YouTube Partner Program or are already a member. And that you want to monetize your YouTube channel to finally make money with it. Well, as you probably know, you’ll have to meet two requirements.

Before you can apply, you’ll need to get at least 1K YouTube subscribers for your channel. You’ll also need to gain a mandatory 4K hours of watch time within the last 365 days. That’s what we’re going to focus on today. And then, explore different tactics on How To Make The YouTube Algorithm Work For You to quickly grow your channel.

What Are YouTube Public Watch Hours?

For your information, we’ll look at watch time from three different angles:

  • the minimum number of videos that you should make to get there
  • watch time views each of your videos has to get
  • your overall subscriber’s number to get you there
  • the best length that your video should be, etc.

Of course, when we look at big numbers, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine what those numbers really mean. So let’s break down 4000 hours of YouTube watch time into minutes.

What Are YouTube Public Watch Hours?

YouTube Public Watch Hours (watch time) is the amount of time that people spend watching videos on a YouTube channel. Thus, the watch time gained by your video from the public is considered as public watch hours. Remember promoted video’s watch time will not count in this case. For instance, if you play ads for your video through AdWords.

Thus, YouTube will not count it as a public watch hour. As such, 1 watch hour means that people altogether spent roughly 1-hour watching videos on a given YouTube channel like ours. The math here is quite simple! On one side, one hour equals 60 minutes. So, all we have to do is multiply both numbers.

4000 hours x 60 minutes = 240,000 minutes!

This means, in order to get to 4000 hours of YouTube watch time, you have to generate 240,000 minutes of YouTube watch time. On the other hand, one day has 24 hours. That means we can just divide 4000 hours of watch time by 24 to get our answer.

4000 hours / 24 hours = 166 days and 16 hours

Thus, to get 100% of your YouTube watch time from one person, they would have to play your videos on loop for 166 days and 16 hours none-stop. Eventually, that number will become much smaller if you have more subscribers. On that note, there are two things that you have to understand about watch time.

Watch Time Qualifier

The first thing that you have to understand is what qualifies as watch time? Always remember, not all content is equal. YouTube only considers PUBLIC watch time as watch time. Meaning, if you set the privacy of one of your videos as unlisted or private. You could get a million hours of watch time, and it wouldn’t count! Keep that in mind when you upload your videos onto YouTube!

Watch Time Duration

As an example, if you had a viral video two years ago, would it still count towards your watch time? Unfortunately not! 4,000 hours of watch time is not about the total number of watch time people watched during the lifetime of your channel. It’s a moving time frame, and will always look at the last 365 days from whatever date it is today.

Imagine this: If you had accumulated 1K hours of watch time exactly 500 days before today and then generated another 3K hours within the last 365 days. How many hours of watch time would you have? Hint: It’s not 4K. If you guessed 3K, you’re right on the money! The 1,000 hours that you collected 500 days ago are out of the 365 days date range.

Now, the good news is that you just have to get 4,000 hours once. Once you qualify for monetization, you can apply for monetization. And once you’re approved, you’re approved. No matter how many hours of watch time you accumulate afterward. For example, if you got monetized one year ago but only had 1,000 hours of watch time within the last 365 days doesn’t matter. You still stay monetized.

Why Does It Matter For YouTubers

In reality, many video content creators spend a year or so trying to reach that milestone, but it’s totally worth it in the end. Reaching this goal means you can apply to the YouTube Partner Program and eventually monetize your content with ads. After all, what creator doesn’t want to make money from their videos?

As mentioned, for your Watch Time to count toward monetization, you need to gain 4,000 viewing hours in 12 consecutive months. However, the videos don’t need to have been published in the last 12 months. But, they need to have been watching in the last 52 weeks. Likewise, only certain types of videos are eligible to collect Watch Time.

Therefore, you’ll want to make sure most of your videos are set to public, as this is the main qualifier. Earning 4,000 hours of Watch Time is the dream for most creators, but it isn’t easy. Gaining 100 hours, sure. But thousands? That’ll test your determination to keep going on YouTube. Essentially, you have to post multiple videos and hope they stay longer.

Before you start earning Watch Time, know which videos are in your best interest to create. There are five videos that make it hard – in most cases, impossible – to reach 4,000 hours.

1. Videos Set to Private or Unlisted

Years ago, private and unlisted videos counted toward YPP Watch Time. That changed in 2019 when YouTube decided that public videos, not partially viewable content, could accumulate watch hours. This means you need to prioritize public videos over private or unlisted ones. Unlisted videos can only be watched if certain people have the link.

This privacy option benefits creators with specific content plans. They may want to send videos to friends and family or create a webinar for a limited audience. If you’re trying to monetize your channel, unlisted and private videos aren’t very helpful. Make sure videos that need to be public are, in fact, set to public. That’ll help you reach 4K hours for the YPP.

To set private or unlisted videos to the public on YouTube,
  1. Log in to YouTube on desktop.
  2. Click your profile icon and select YouTube Studio from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click Content on the left navigation menu.
  4. You’ll see a list of all the videos on your channel.
  5. Find the videos you want to make public, then go to the Visibility column.
  6. Click the eyeball symbol to reveal a menu of options: private, unlisted, members-only, and public.
  7. Choose Public and click Publish.

2. Videos You’ve Deleted

When you delete content, YouTube deducts the Watch Time from your monetizable total. For example, imagine your channel has 2,000 watch hours. If you delete a video that contributed 500 of those hours, you’ll be left with 1,500. Before you delete anything, check to see how many watch hours your content has earned.

Sometimes deleting a video is inevitable. Maybe you’ve grown as a person since it was first published and want to clean up your image. Or perhaps someone appeared in your video without prior consent, and they want you to take it down. Whatever the reason, make sure it’s worth deleting a video and losing precious watch hours.

3. Advertising Campaigns

Have you created video ads for YouTube? If you were hoping these would help you apply to the YPP, unfortunately, they won’t. Watch hours from advertising campaigns don’t count toward YouTube monetization.

Even if you’ve earned 10,000 hours, none of it will go toward the 4,000 hours you need. This seems fair because ads can get millions of views. If YouTube counts them for YPP acceptance, that’ll create a shortcut to monetization.

4. YouTube Shorts

Short, vertical videos and how they relate to the YPP is a complicated subject. We know that YouTube Shorts aren’t monetized; YouTube made that clear a few months ago. The platform also announced that Watch Time from Shorts doesn’t contribute to a creator’s 4,000-hour goal.

  1. But, will this change in the future?
  2. Is there a monetization program just for Shorts in place?

Well, only time will tell. For now, know that Shorts won’t help you monetize your channel–not quickly, at least. There’s a small caveat to this statement, though. If a Short is viewed on the Shorts shelf, a display area for brief, vertical videos, it won’t earn YPP watch hours.

But, if the same video is viewed on a regular watch page with YouTube ads and a comment section, you can earn eligible Watch Time. So, while Shorts are mostly viewed on the Shorts shelf, they do get played in monetizable areas. If you need all the watch hours you can get, take advantage of this loophole. Those seconds, however small, add up.

5. Unconverted Live Streams

Live streams are a great way to increase your Watch Time. These videos are usually lengthy, and if people stick around until the end, you can add several hours to your analytics.

According to YouTube, live streams that aren’t converted to video-on-demand content won’t earn YPP watch hours. The information around this is pretty vague, so we’d suggest making sure your live streams are public when they’ve ended. Don’t archive a live stream by setting it to unlisted or private.

Overall, once you have 4,000 hours, everything gets easier. You’ll be one step closer to applying to the YouTube Partner Program, which lets you monetize your channel with advertisements. Having those valuable hours allows you to focus on other things, too, like getting 1K subscribers. That’s the second milestone required for the YPP.

When you’re collecting Watch Time hours, it’s easy to overlook certain parts of the process. The biggest, most understated thing, is that not all watch hours count toward the YPP threshold. That’s why, as soon as possible, we’d recommend checking to see if your live stream is public after it ends. If it’s unlisted or private, switch it to public.

The Best YouTube Public Watch Hours Strategy

To reach 4,000 hours of Watch Time, create a diverse set of content. That means in addition to regular videos, posting lengthy live streams, and experimenting with Shorts. The latter isn’t going to bring you quick success. The Watch Time you earn, if you earn any at all, will depend on where people watch the video.

Shorts should complement your regular videos and live streams because all the Watch Time accumulates. Beyond that, be intentional with the videos you upload. It’s easier to earn watch hours when you post videos that are relevant all year. Anything about making more money, product reviews, and video games with lasting popularity is key.

Get Started: Everything You Need to Create is on the YouTube For Creators Site

People continue to search for these evergreen topics on YouTube. Equally important, go for quality over quantity. Instead of posting 30 videos in 30 days, aim to create videos that are entertaining, informative, and completely cover a topic.

That could be 15 videos that answer every question about a topic, complete with video chapters and detailed instructions. Provide as much value as you can to make people watch longer. In nutshell, if you want to join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), you have to get a lot of watch time fast. Let’s look at a few other best YouTube watch time hacks.

#1: Get More People (out of the box) To Watch Your Videos

Think of yourself as a promoter, who is bringing paying customers to a nightclub. If you’re doing a great job, the club owner will love you. Especially, if your guests stay for a long time and order rounds of shots one after another

The YouTube equivalent of this example is, you promote your own videos outside of YouTube. People click on your link. Your video is the first they watch. They get hooked and watch more videos. Likewise, if they also click on your video, watch it, continue to watch more videos, and also share your video, the better. This is the essence of viral videos!

Before you start filming or planning your video script, think of a reason why someone in your audience would want to share your next video first! What would a viewer write as the caption of their Facebook post or WhatsApp message, when they share it with their friends? As such, plan your videos for shareability.

Suffice to say, another cool method to increase the number of initial views for new videos is to publish them as a video premiere. It’s like a watch party for your new video. Just select a date and time, and YouTube will live-stream your new video at your specified time. Viewers can join the live chat and interact with you.

Afterward, it will turn into a regular video that people can watch whenever they want. The benefit of premieres is that it’s a unique experience. You can only ever watch it for the first time, and then it’s over. Because of this novelty factor, you’ll get a lot more people to watch your premieres in comparison to publishing videos the regular way.

#2: Consider Starting To Create Evergreen Video Content

The right evergreen video content can earn your YouTube channel an incredible amount of views per month. Have you ever had a video that just keeps churning out views, months, even years, after you’ve made it?

The reason I ask is that those are the types of videos you can build entire channels around. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing over the course of years. And the best news is this has nothing to do with PewDiePie versus T-series. Yeah! To enumerate, Evergreen YouTube Content is content that is always relevant or at least relevant for a very long period.

We often joke that the gold standard of evergreen content would be to rank a video number one for how to change a car tire, or how to unblock a toilet.

To make evergreen topic videos, you’ll simply:
  • Answer questions lots of viewers are asking
  • Provided valuable information on topics people are searching for
  • Look for unique topics though it requires some keyword research

When it comes to YouTube Public Watch Hours, it doesn’t matter how old that information is it’s still relevant today. And yes, if you are brave enough to do a search for this term, and yes I have blurred out some of the thumbnails, you will find videos made over ten years ago with millions of views, that still get 70 views per hour today.

It’s a bit like saying, I know we’ve been learning about the Marvel universe for the last ten years, but going forward we’re going to learn about the DC universe, it’s kind of the same but everything is different. So, if everybody on the platform needs to learn something new, somebody needs to teach it to them. See how Evergreen Content on YouTube is done.

#3: Customize Your YouTube Channel Thumbnails

Want to know another incredible hack to increase your YouTube Public Watch Hours? Well, you should try and optimize your video thumbnails for clicks in this case. You could have the best video in the world, but if nobody clicks on it, your watch time will be zero. Together with your video title, YouTube thumbnails are the most important success factors.

More so, for those seeking to get high video click-through rates. And, for sure, a great thumbnail communicates the value of watching your video to viewers when they browse their YouTube newsfeed. By default, YouTube will select three freeze-frames from your video as thumbnail suggestions during the upload of your video.

But, you should always design and upload your own unique video thumbnail to stand out from other videos. You will get the best results if you plan for the thumbnail before writing your video script. You can check this article on how to plan, design, and optimize your YouTube thumbnails in detail.

I recommend publishing three videos of 10-15 minutes per week and one hour-long live stream per month. Add up to five video cards to each of your videos to promote related videos from your channel to encourage viewers to watch more of your content. Create a comment pin and recommend the same videos you recommend in your video cards.

#4: Optimize Your Overall YouTube Channel Videos

When you’re starting a new YouTube channel, the odds are stacked against you. Initially, YouTube will – firstly – not recommend your videos to new people. And, your channel will not grow organically because it doesn’t know enough about you, your channel, your videos, and who would be interested in watching them.

The good news is, you can get around this by optimizing your videos for YouTube search. You have to find video topics that many people are searching for on YouTube, with very few competing videos in the search results. Create a targeted video for this topic once you found a high search volume and low competition keyword.

And then, optimize your video title, description, and keywords for YouTube SEO. Bearing in mind, YouTube SEO is one of the most powerful tools to optimize the YouTube click-through rate of your videos. If there are only 5 videos about topic X, including yours, then your video will show up on page one of YouTube’s search results for your targeted keyword.

Learn More: YouTube SEO Rank Algorithm | How To Get In No #1 Results

So, how do you find these keywords? By using a software called TubeBuddy for all of your videos. TubeBuddy is a free browser extension and mobile application that integrates directly into YouTube to help you run your channel with ease.

Although launched back in December 2014, the team behind it has been building tools in the YouTube space for 14+ years now – since before it was even owned by Google! And it’s totally free! It connects directly to YouTube’s API and pulls up the number of searches for any keyword I type in. And it also tells me how many competitor videos show up.

Based on these two numbers TubeBuddy will calculate a score between 0 and 100 points. The higher, the better. You can then use these keywords to find ideas for new video titles and optimize your videos to get a more organic reach.

#5: Upload Videos To Your YouTube Channel Consistently

Viral videos are a wonderful thing; they give your channel a boost while attracting new viewers to your content. But, you shouldn’t go into the video-making process intending to make a viral video. Few creators pull it off, and it’s easier to just be consistent on YouTube. Stick to your posting schedule if your goal is to earn more YouTube public watch hours.

Not forgetting, so that someday, you’ll have enough videos to gain 4K hours across several uploads versus one video. By the same token, increasing your Watch Time on YouTube is a numbers game. If you need 4K hours to get monetized, and your videos earn one hour on average, you would need 4K videos in total.

That’s just an example, though. Your channel can (and probably will) perform better than that. But, the point is that you need a large collection of videos to reach your Watch Time goals. That means you shouldn’t be overly concerned.

With certain things like:
  • Creating the perfect video
  • Editing your clips for unreasonable lengths of time
  • Spending too many hours filming

Find a way to produce content quickly without sacrificing the quality you need to be competitive on YouTube. Then upload your content and start working on the next video. Rinse and repeat.

And now, unless you have the talent to produce hour-long movies every week without burning out, there is a much easier way. More so, to get your YouTube public watch hours time up to speed. It’s no other than to Go Live on YouTube so that you can reach your community in real-time.

#6: Become Obsessed With Your Target Audience Retention

Even though the average watch time percentage is lower than shorter videos, longer videos make more than up for it when dedicated viewers watch them all the way till the end! If people start watching one of your videos and a few seconds later click on another video, YouTube will think that your video isn’t interesting and entertaining enough.

Thus, it will stop recommending it to other people in the future. We don’t want that! The longer people watch your videos, the more Watch Time you will receive.

  • How many people are still watching after the 30-second mark?
  • Are viewers watching until the end,
  • Do they watch 50% of a video on average?

These are some of the questions you should ask to create better content. But, don’t just make long videos just to reach 4,000 hours. You should make your videos long enough to cover a specific topic. When viewers get bored and abandon a video, that hurts your Watch Time.

If your video is fun and entertaining to watch and someone stays all the way till the end, ask them to watch some of your other videos via your video end screens. You can add up to 4 videos and video playlists to the last 20 seconds of your videos that viewers can watch with the click of a button.

#7: Recommend Your Videos In A YouTube Playlist Format 

On one hand, another awesome way to promote your videos to new viewers is by sharing links to some of your videos and playlists in the description of your videos. Frequently, review all your top-performing videos in terms of watch time, views, and engagement. And then, copy all video links in a text file and add the video title in front or above each link.

Instead of sharing the video URL that you mentioned in your video in the description, you can share them in a comment and then pin the comment to the top. On the other hand, every YouTube channel should have at least one playlist! You can start by creating one for all of your videos and then, wait for it… add all of your public videos to it! Genius!

The idea of why you should create playlists is that it creates a very convenient way for viewers to bulk-watch your content. Clearly, if you want to turbo-charge your YouTube playlists, you must take advantage of a little-known yet super-powerful feature called YouTube series playlists.

Simply, because YouTube will auto-play videos after each video by default. And if you can sneak in more of your videos at the end, that means extra watch time, and you get to 4,000 hours much faster! On the same note, another way you can take advantage of video playlists is by sharing playlists instead of individual video links.

Consider the following: 
  • First, find a playlist of your choice that contains the video that you want to share.
  • Open it and then select the video you want to share.
  • You’ll notice that the URL changes into a long, convoluted address.
  • Select it, copy it, and paste it into a new tab in your browser.
  • It should play your video AND then continue with other videos from your playlist.

Obviously, if it works, share this far and wide. Whilst, keeping in mind, not everybody will continue to watch your entire playlist. But some will, and that’s all that matters! More watch time for your channel.

#8: Track Your YouTube Public Watch Hours Performance

Generally, the YouTube Studio has a wealth of analytics to explore. But, some of the best growth advice will come from your subscribers. After all, they are your customers. Most of them know what they want to see, and they will tell you exactly what those videos are. The first thing is to check the comment section of your next video to see what I mean.

Oftentimes, highly engaged viewers will share video ideas and practically beg you to film those concepts. In that case, you can give some of these ideas a chance. If the videos perform well, you will have even more YouTube public watch hours under your belt. The YouTube Studio has a page in the left-hand navigation panel called Monetization.

In the real sense, this will show your subscriber and Watch Time progress. Always remember, you can’t increase your Watch Time on YouTube without also increasing your views. You also have to get more people to watch more of your videos to get more watch time. One of the easiest ways is by recommending your related videos via video cards.

Those are the little info icons that appear in the top right corner of your videos. You can recommend up to 5 videos per video, and I highly recommend incorporating this strategy for all of your videos. When you’re just starting, you might not have enough videos to recommend. But, don’t worry! You can always go back and add cards later on.

#9: Consider Doing Some Marketing Campaigns

If you do webinars for your business, why not live-stream them on YouTube. You can use two tools for all of the webinars that allow you to live stream to YouTube: WebinarJam and Restream. Webinars are usually last from 30 minutes to 2-3 hours. And that means a massive boost in watch time every time you have a new webinar.

However, make sure that you set your live stream to the public. Otherwise, YouTube won’t count it towards your 4,000 hours of watch time. Have you ever thought about creating an online course as a lead magnet? Well, you can use Teachable to host your online courses. But, make sure to keep it super simple. Just create a hidden site page.

Learn More: YouTube Auto-subscribe Link Generator | Get 1K+ Users!

And then again, add all course videos as embedded YouTube videos. Or if you have an email list, send them a sequence of daily emails. Particularly, each with the link to a different YouTube video. Notably, most people love structure and are more willing to consume larger amounts of content if presented and structured the right way.

And what does that mean for you? You guessed it! More YouTube public watch hours time! If you don’t have the patience, there is another way that you can think of. And, that’s for you to create a video ad campaign on Google Ads, if I may add. Just find a video on your YouTube channel that’s reasonably long. So, no shorter than 10 minutes, ideal half an hour to an hour. Webinar replays work amazingly.

#10: Use A Mixed Set Of Delivery Tools

Earning 4,000 hours of YouTube Public Watch Hours is a major undertaking. Unfortunately, over the past decade, this screen has become part of my daily fabric life. And, it helped transform my career path in a way. But, it’s time is coming to an end, if not already, replaced by YouTube’s new creator studio. This is a monumental change, hundreds of screens, analytics, channel setup, etc.

As well as video management all changing from something we’re all very used to, to something new, arguably improved but quite different, and unfamiliar. And this isn’t just affecting me, so to say. It’s affecting every single one of you watching this video, reading this post, and millions more besides. Getting discovered on YouTube can be quite difficult.

But, you can make it easier by uploading videos that are:
  1. Likely to appear in YouTube search results
  2. Relevant year-round

This is what’s called evergreen content. Creators love these videos because they get lots of traffic, and as a result, plenty of Watch Time. If you want to take your YouTube channel to the next level and get more views on YouTube then make sure to download vidIQ. It’ll help you research YouTube, analyze videos, audit your own channel, and take action.

If you also want to keep tabs on additional metrics, like views per hour in the last 48 hours, just download VidIQ. You’ll get this awesome real-time stats bar for FREE. You can also try and use TubeBuddy to replace all of your video end screens with your most popular videos in bulk.

Relevant Resource Topics:
  1. What Are YouTube Shorts?
  2. How To Create YouTube Intro
  3. How To Increase YouTube Revenue
  4. Why Is YouTube A Great Marketing Tool?
  5. YouTube Ads | The Main Ad Types & How Well to Advertise
  6. Video Subtitles & Captions | No #1 YouTube Marketing Tool
  7. YouTube Custom URL | How To Customize Channel Name

Next time you meet your friend, tell them that you want to show them your new YouTube channel on THEIR phone. Then let them watch one of your videos. And while you’re at it, why not subscribe to them at the same time. Every bit helps! And who knows, maybe they’ll turn into one of your most loyal subscribers who watch all of your videos.

Finally, make sure that you put all the suggestions into action. And, as a result, you’ll eventually reach 4,000 hours of Watch Time. But, don’t stop there yet! Your next goal should be for you to apply for the YPP to start monetizing. All in all, if you’ll need more clarification on how to do it, you can Consult Us and let us know how we can sort you out.


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