YouTube Analytics: watch time reports

Last year we started vlogging and overall using videos a lot more in our communication. It’s an easy way to communicate and a lot more personal than most online communication. We like it a lot and will obviously continue to focus on video this year. Following our recent posts on social media analytics (Twitter, Facebook), it only seems to make sense to go over YouTube Analytics as well. YouTube continues to be the second largest search engine in the world, and of course, you want to monitor your efforts there as well.


When you visit youtube.com/analytics (be sure to pick the right profile in the upper right corner), you’ll find a number of ‘channels’ in the left menu. For this post, I’ll mainly focus on the watch time section. I’ll write a second post on the engagement reports section of YouTube Analytics soon.

YouTube Analytics Overview

YouTube Analytics starts with a nice overview of watch time, average view duration and things like your top 10 videos. The page bottom shows some graphs showing countries, gender, traffic sources, and playback locations. Filters are available for uploads/playlists, subscribed/not subscribed, and live/on demand. My 2 cents? Just a nice overview, but it tells me little. I do like the top 10, but for the rest I’d like to see more details, and that is probably why Youtube Analytics is divided into many subsections, that can easily be accessed through the left sub menu.


Realtime overviews are just available for uploads, not for playlists. Makes sense, right. You can see stats for the last 48 hours and last 60 minutes:

Hovering elements will give you more details. I already mentioned in an earlier post on Google Search Console that some graphs are better used for trend analysis than anything else, and that seems to be the case here as well, that is why these overviews only really matter at an event, like the start of a new campaign or when you’ve just sent out your email newsletter.

There’s also a convenient overview of these stats for the last five videos you uploaded. So if traffic on that important video is low for instance, you could consider giving it some extra social media exposure or mentioning it in your upcoming newsletter. Clicking one of these specific videos will get you to a page where you’d expect more details on the video, but that isn’t the case in this Realtime section. It just shows the stats a bit larger :) The hover state in the overview shows you a lot more – see image on the right (channel, date of creation, when it’s published, duration and privacy setting).

Earnings report

I’m going to skip this section, as this only works when Adsense is associated with your YouTube channel. We didn’t, as our earnings come primarily from this website and not per se from our videos on Youtube.com. If you have associated Adsense, this section will show estimated earnings and ad performance.

Watch time reports

Now this is an interesting section. This is about how people watch your videos and analyzing this can give you new ideas for promotion and on how to organize your videos.

This section starts with this graph:

That’s a pretty dull graph, I know. The thing is that it’s packed with extras that YouTube Analytics decided to hide in the icons on the left. There is a line graph for watch time and views (filter at the top), which is what is in the screenshot, and then we have from top to bottom:

Next to watch time, all charts can also show average view duration, average percentage viewed, watch time in hours instead of minutes, subscriber views and/or subscriber minutes watched in that same chart.

Audience retention

Audience retention in YouTube Analytics is about how loyal your viewers are. These are actually nice graphs to play with and see how things compare to each other. It will give you a better view about the performance of certain videos.

That’s last year on our Yoast channel. I can clearly see when we started focusing on video a lot more. The spike just before week 23 (2015) was YoastCon. In our case, that’s also reflected in the table below these charts:

The details of the live streams (just click live in the table) show that these indeed only occurred during YoastCon, conveniently the only day we offered live streams in 2015 ;)

You can see there are a few more tables to be analyzed: which country had the most watch time (including average view duration), which day had the most watch time and whether most watch time was done by subscribers or people that still have to subscribe to our Yoast Channel. Nice to see that subscribers watched a bit longer on average (even about 50% longer!).

Update: I received a nice email from Ted Hamilton, Product Manager at YouTube Analytics, about how I left out one important report here:

The audience retention report at the video level is a different beast! It shows you where in your videos that people are dropping off.

Spot on, as this will tell you for instance what the ideal length of certain types of videos are, and for instance where to put your call-to-action or cards. More on cards in the second part of this post on YouTube Analytics.

You should definitely play around with the data in this section and see what comes in handy regarding your own videos.


It almost feels like overkill, but next to the geographic information in the previous sections, YouTube Analytics has some more geographical data in store for us:

Our main YouTube audience is from the US, UK, India and the Netherlands, and these are mostly male viewers in the age of 25-44. I can think of companies where this information is very valuable, like (online) magazines and other companies that try to target a specific audience.

Playback Locations

This section gives you a nice overview of where your videos are watched:

Traffic Sources

This section starts with the alert that “Data in this report may be incomplete or missing.”(in our case, not sure whether this is a general alert), and it mentions as the main traffic sources External, Direct or unknown and Unknown – embedded player. Luckily, as with most items displayed in tables in YouTube Analytics, there is an easy click to more detailed information:

Unfortunately, this is as detailed as it goes, clicking the links in this table will give you (drumroll) geographical information, per country per traffic source.


I do like the devices sections, which tells me that a whopping 87% of our watch time is done on a computer, 64% on Windows and 33% on Mac. Just about 6% is done on a phone, and even less on a tablet.

Live Streaming

This section just applies to the live streams you had in a certain period. For us, this section holds little information as we only streamed videos for a day. I can imagine this section might also be interesting for certain companies.

That concludes our first post on YouTube Analytics. In an upcoming post, I will dive a bit deeper in the engagement stats YouTube provides. Keep a keen eye on our website for updates!

Read more: Twitter Analytics: stats for your tweets »