Knowing the difference between YouTube retention and watch time is important for any content creator.

What's The Difference Between YouTube Retention & Watch Time?

Terri P

As you’re beginning your journey towards YouTube success, you might come across some unfamiliar metrics. Two of the most important metrics for any YouTuber to be familiar with are retention and watch time. But what’s the difference between the two, and why do they matter?


Audience Retention


Audience retention refers to the percentage of viewers who watch your video, how long they stick around for, and at what point in your video they leave. This is an important metric to be aware of because it directly correlates to how engaging your content is. If you’ve effectively captured your audiences’ attention, your video retention rate should reflect that.


Because retention rate is measured at every point in your video, you can tell which parts of your video were the most engaging for your audience. This will allow you to craft future content better suited to your audiences’ needs and interests.


In your YouTube Analytics, you’ll see two graphs in your retention report. The first is the absolute retention curve; this shows you how well your video is retaining viewers. The second is the relative retention curve this shows you how well your video is performing compared to all other similar YouTube videos.


Watch Time


Simply put, watch time is the total amount of time your audience spends watching your video. The higher a videos’ watch time, the higher it will rank in the search results and recommendations section of YouTube. In other words, the more engaging a video is, the more watch time it should have.


Applying These Metrics


You can view your watch time analytics and retention rate, and determine which videos are the most engaging, creating even better content for future videos. And if you’re trying to boost your channel’s ranking and reach YouTube’s trending page, having a high watch time is key to increasing your chances of success.