Why are my watch hours dropping or delayed?
- 22 Jul, 2020
So you noticed your watch hours dropped on YT Tracker or on YouTube Studio?
Let’s breakdown the reasons this could be happening.
How are your watch hours calculated?
To be eligible for monetization on YouTube, you need 1,000 subscribers AND you need to reach 4,000 hours of watch time over the last 365 days. I repeat, over the last 365 days.
What does that mean?
Well when YouTube assess your eligibility to be monetized, they only look for the last year. Any watch time earned before that no longer counts towards your 4,000 hours target.
It sounds bad, but it’s actually a good thing. It ensures YouTubers who are eligible to put ads on their videos are active and are getting watch time consistently. If YouTube were taking historical watch time without limit of time, you could basically upload a few clickbait videos, get tons of watch time once and never upload again, yet still monetize these clickbaity videos.
This is obviously not how YouTube wants creator to act on their platform, and justified the 365 lookback period.
Why are you watch hours sometimes dropping?
Everyday, your watch hours are refreshed, yes only once per day. There’s not need to hit that refresh button 1,000 times per day. It only refreshes once per day.
Let’s say today is July 3th of 2020:
When YouTube refreshes your Watch Hours, the calculation will take into account the watch hours gathered between July 2nd 2019 and July 2nd 2020.
Then, on July 4th 2020:
YouTube will now ignore the watch hours gained on July 2nd 2019, and start the calculation from July 3rd 2019 to July 3rd 2020.
If you had earned more watch hours last year, compared to the same day this year, your watch time (past 365 days) will decrease.
And better said by @TeamYouTube themselves:
Your watch time is changing because it is a rolling number. Each day is a new ending of a 365 day period. If less viewers watched your vid the day before, it will show in your watch time. Just continue to upload engaging content. Hope this clarifies!— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) July 27, 2020
It’s as simple as that. As long as you earn more watch time this year than last year, your watch time (past 365 days) will continue to increase.
How does it work if my channel is less than 1 year old?
If your channel is less than 1 year old… for the first 365 days, your watch time past 365 days will increase day by day. The calculation details explained above will only apply to you after one year and one day on YouTube.
My channel is less than one year old and my hours have dropped. How is it possible?
There are more reasons though less frequent that could trigger a drop in watch hours.
If you delete videos, the watch time earned on this particular videos will end up being deleted by YouTube. You might not see an immediate impact but it will get refreshed at some point.
If you make public videos private or unlisted, the same applies. Only watch hours earning on Public videos count towards your eligibility criteria.
Sporadically, YouTube scans their database to identify and remove spam activity, fake views, fake watch time and all kinds of other data triggers by bots and spammers. In most cases it’s completely out of your control. Let’s go through some examples :
- Trigger: YouTube deletes thousands of fake channels and spam accounts. Impact: all watch time generated by these channels will end up being purged from YouTube’s datasets. If some of these channels happen to have watch some of your videos or part of your videos, the equivalent watch time will also be discounted from your watch time. There’s nothing you can do about that, besides being aware that these things happen.
- Trigger: You spammed links to your videos in all kinds of places and people clicked on your links but only watch 2-3 seconds of your videos before dropping. Impact: it’s very easy for YouTube to recognize this sort of activity and the watch time earned via this kind of practice will most likely end up being deleted too.
More often than not, data related issues are occuring to many YouTube if not all YouTubers at the same time. These issues can often be due to temporary glitches on YouTube’s data pipeline. Like any big platforms, YouTube has hundreds of engineers working on new features, new ways to process data and they sometimes have issues managing their extremely complex server artchitecture. This can lead to temporary issues. Generally, a good way to understand if this is happening is to keey an eye on the @TeamYouTube on Twitter. You can even tweet at them to ask if this is a glitch or if there is a specific issue with your channel.
This pretty much covers 99% of the cases which could occur.
I hope this was helpful.
If you read all of this and still have questions, please feel free to reach out to me via the app’s contact form.
All the best on YouTube.