Monday, June 29, 2020

How to Mathematically (and Practically) Get 4000 Hours of Watch Time on YouTube This Year As A Small Creator

YouTube just announced new Monetization Guidelines and many small creators on the platform are worried, upset, or incredibly pissed that they now have to fulfill these requirements:



YouTube requires your channel to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watchtime with the past 12 months to have monetization.

Now, I’m also a small creator and the above image was screencapped from an email directly from YouTube about one of my two channels. However, unlike a lot of small creators, I’m perfectly okay with this change.
Today I’m not gonna talk about the logistics of why this change is good or the emotional responses that anybody has about these changes. Instead, we’re gonna talk about the mathematical way that small creators can reach 4,000 watch time hours in the next year.
I went back to the routes of my Algebra days and came up with the following word problem:

If Watch Time has to be 4,000 hours in 1 Year:
-What’s the minimum amount of videos you need to make this year?
- How many views does each video need to get?
- AND how long should the video be?

I’m not gonna tackle the subscriber issue, because I think if you follow the quest in getting 4,000 hours of watchtime, the subscriber count will go with it.

Also, there are a ton of variables that come into play here, so we’re going to assume a couple of things for the sake of this exercise:

  1. Each video you make, gets the minimum amount of views needed AND was watched all the way through by each of these views. We’ll call these views “pure views” because this assumes that they were watched in their entirety.
  2. Since videos stay around forever, older videos can increase in views randomly and consistently throughout the year, so since this math would be extremely complicated, we’re not talking about that.

So, here are the things that we know:


  • We know that 4,000 hours of Watch Time is equal to 240,000 minutes.
  • We also know that YouTube prefers 10 minute long videos. So 10 minutes will be the baseline for part of our discussion.

Let’s Begin!


To reach the 240,000 minutes of Watch Time needed, you could make:

  • 240,000 videos at 10 minutes long, with each getting 1 view. This is impossible.
  • 2,400 videos at 10 minutes long, with each getting 10 views. This is also pretty unreasonable.
  • 240 videos at 10 minutes long, with each getting 100 views.

Now we’re talking.


Though 100 views would be hard to get on every video, UNLESS, every video you make is a quality video, the thumbnail is very clickable and extremely search friendly, this won’t be as hard.

Basically, if you ride on trends the entire year and create a bunch of How-To videos, along with niche content and the content that you want to make — we’re looking at an extremely possible situation.

240 videos at 10 minutes long, each getting 100 views, means that each video needs to have a total of 1,000 Watch Time minutes (which is equal to about 16.5 hours).

*Extra Tip* Take a look at your video library. If you have a video that has already received 1,000 Watch Time minutes in the span of a year, find out what made it work so well and try to replicate it success.

We also know that 240 videos a year, gives us an additional 125 days in the year where a video is not being uploaded. This means 1 video every 1.5 days OR roughly 5 videos a week. Only 10 minutes a piece and you’ve got a nice weekend off.

But 100 views is still a lot for a small channel to maintain, including myself, so you spend 5 days a week recording, editing, uploading and then the other 2 days are left from promoting your videos in the right Facebook Groups, SubReddits, Twitter, etc.

But, for arguments sake (and because I still have plenty of more math for you), let’s say 100 views still seems like a lot.

Well, what if we made 365 videos this year, instead of 240. That means, one video a day.

Most people will even tell you that you should have daily content anyways.

So 365 videos a year, at 10 minutes long, means that you only need to get about 66 views on every video you upload.

Getting 66 views is much better than getting 100 views.

But what if I show you something crazier?

If you increase each video by 1 minute extra, then you have 365 videos, each at 11 minutes long. Now you only have to get 60 views, instead of the initial 100 views.


But let’s get even crazier.


Here is a chart that shows you how many views you have to get on each video, if you make 365 videos this year, based on the length of the video:


The longer your video is, the less views you’ll need to get the required 4,000 hours of Watch Time.

What you’ll notice here, is that if you create the kind of content that is shorter, anywhere from 1–5 minutes long, you’ll have to get a lot better at promoting your content, so that you can get more views on them and be able to reach the Watch Time required.

Keep in mind though, that these view numbers are still nothing crazy, as we don’t have a single video that would require you to go above 700 views.

Once we get into the 20 minute range of content, which tons of channels already create videos this length, you start to only have to get around 30 views or less per video.

And once you get towards the half-hour length or longer, those pure views could be in the single digits.

Meaning that podcasts and live streams only have to be viewed by a few people.

But maybe you want to focus more on the quality of your videos and not put out as many videos. Well then, the less videos you make, the more you need to advertise them to ensure that you get more views.

So here’s another chart, showing you the amount of 10 minute videos you need to put out throughout the year and the amount of views required to make that watch time:


The less videos you put out, the more views you need to have to reach the required 4,000 hours of Watch Time.

This assumes that every video you put out is only 10 minutes long, as that’s the baseline, but we’ll see that the more videos you put out, the less views you need to get on each video.

Obviously the top part of the chart is practically impossible, so the first realistic goal here (depending on the kind of content you make) is 686 videos this year. This is close to uploading 2 videos a day, every day, and receiving 35 views on each video.

The next main one is 365 videos, which was covered above. But then right under that is 240 videos, again only requiring you to have 100 views.

The less videos you put out, the more views you need to have to reach the required Watch Time.

Technically you could put out 1 video, every 2 weeks and end up with 24 videos by the end of the year. If you can get each of these videos up to 1000 views a piece, then you’ll be able to make the required amount of Watch Time.

Additionally, if these videos are longer than 10 minute long, you could easily make less videos, depending on how much you want to advertise your videos.

Again, remember that these are “pure views” meaning that every one of these views has to have seen the entire video for it to count.

At the end of the day though, here are the things you need to consider:

  • What types of videos can I make that are extremely sharable OR would be watched if you shared them in the right place?
  • Find things that people haven’t covered yet. Do something unique. Yes, it’s easier said than done and I’m learning this myself, but every time I’ve ever done an off-the-wall video, the views have been much higher.
  • Consider diversifying your content. If you’re a Let’s Player, do Live Streams and other types of Gaming Content. If you’re an animator, Live Stream your animating sessions, and do behind-the-scenes videos. If you’re a musician, do covers, record raw sessions of your music, and Live Stream gigs or performances.
  • In fact, LIVE STREAM. This past year on my gaming channel, I had 1,566 hours of Watch Time. The Top 10 most watched videos only made up 24% of my entire watch time AND 8/10 of those were Live Streams. Live Streams will get you more watch time.
  • Consider doing a weekly podcast in your niche. On my Main Channel, 91% of my watch time in the past 5 months came from my Top 10 most watched videos. 5/10 of those were podcasts. Chances are you know something about your niche and can provide some kind of value there.
  • Above all else, make good content. Too many people focus on the numbers and don’t realize that maybe they still need to work on learning how to make good videos. I was there once and I still have plenty of room to grow. I’m sure you do too.

Now we have to go back to the word problem:


If Watch Time has to be 4,000 hours in 1 Year:
- What’s the minimum amount of videos you need to make this year?
- How many views does each video need to get?
- AND how long should the video be?

A good start, in my opinion, is to try to make 300 videos this year at 10 minutes a piece. Don’t flesh out the videos if they don’t need to be 10 minutes long and if the videos go over 10 minutes, that’s fine too.

Try to incorporate live streams in the mix and maybe start a podcast.

This will put you at about 6 videos a week, meaning that you’ll only need to get 80 pure views on each video. If you target them to the right audience and share them in the right places, that’s completely doable.

Create a content strategy around this, execute it for a month, and then figure out if creating this many videos is too difficult for you OR if you can create daily content.

Experiment with it, but most of all, execute it!

As a small creator, I can tell you as much as I need to, that I believe in you, but at the end of the day —
You have to believe in yourself.

Take this knowledge and put it to practice and create some awesome videos and you’ll reach that threshold in no time. I know I will.
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