Watch time takes center stage

Creators! As you probably heard, YouTube Red launched last week—a new way for viewers to experience content on YouTube (including your own!) without ads. 

The big change that affects creators that YouTube Red subscribers will now be able to watch your videos—as well as download them for offline viewing—without being interrupted by ads. If there are no ads, how do you make money? Two words: watch time.

Watch your watch time

In last week’s post, we discussed how YouTube will divide YouTube Red income among creators based on watch time. In a nutshell, the more time YouTube Red users spend watching your videos, the more you’ll earn from YouTube Red.

And just a few days ago, YouTube doubled down on watch time by making a significant change to the YouTube Analytics page. Whereas the old Analytics page used to focus on data about views, watch time stats are now front and center:


You’ll notice that watch time has even taken over your Demographics view toward the bottom of the Analytics page, where top geographies, traffic sources, and playback locations are now all sorted by watch time:


YouTube Red earnings

You’ll also notice that YouTube Red earnings are now available on your Estimated Earnings page. These earnings are specifically for ad-free playbacks, which, again, are determined by watch time.

Since YouTube Red just launched last week, your YouTube Red earnings will likely be on the low side compared to your ad earnings. But as more viewers sign up, your revenue should gradually increase.

Note: Revenue numbers in the above graphic are made up.

Want to boost your watch time?

With YouTube Red still hot out of the oven, it’s still too early to know exactly what impact it will have on earnings in the long term. We published our initial thoughts last week, and we’ll keep an eye on things and report back when we have more tips on how to take advantage of this new income stream.

In the meantime, read our post on how to increase watch time to make sure you’re set up for success in the new world of YouTube Red. In short: YouTube’s new focus on watch time doesn’t mean you should suddenly start making longer videos—but you should focus on high-quality original content, title and tag your videos accurately, engage your viewers early on, ask them to stick around, and use annotations to boost retention. Good luck with your videos!