YouTube Watch Time: 5 Ways to Reach 4,000 Hours and Monetize Your Channel

Ready to reach 4,000 hours of Watch Time so you can make money on YouTube? Keep reading to discover five solid strategies.


Did you know that the amount of Watch Time required for YouTube monetization is 4,000 hours? Many creators spend a year or more trying to reach that milestone, but it's totally worth it in the end. Reaching this goal means you can apply to the YouTube Partner Program and eventually monetize your content with ads. And what creator doesn't want to make money from their videos?

But first, what does Watch Time actually mean on YouTube? And how does YouTube calculate Watch Time overall?

For your Watch Time to count toward monetization, you need to gain 4,000 viewing hours in 12 consecutive months. The videos don't need to have been published in the last 12 months, but they need to have been watched in the last 52 weeks.

Also, only certain types of videos are eligible to collect Watch Time. You'll want to make sure most of your videos set to public, as this is the main qualifier.

Read More: YouTube Monetization - Which Videos Count Toward 4,000 Hours of Watch Time?

Outside of these requirements, it's up to you to create videos that attract more views – and by extension, extra Watch Time.

5 Ways to Reach 4,000 Hours of Watch Time

Want to earn more Watch Time as fast as possible? Keep reading to explore our best tips and tricks.

1. Make Evergreen Content

Getting discovered on YouTube can be quite difficult. But you can make it easier by uploading videos that are:

  1. Likely to appear in YouTube search results.
  2. Relevant year-round.

This is what's called evergreen content. Creators love these videos because they get lots of traffic, and a result, plenty of Watch Time.

Read More: Why Evergreen Content is the Key to More Views on YouTube

Take a look at these stats. They are real-time view counts for some of our top-performing videos on the vidIQ channel. Notice anything in particular? Take a look at the publish date.

Most of these videos were published years ago and still bring in thousands of daily views. That amounts to hundreds of hours of Watch Time for our channel.

To make these evergreen videos, we simply:

  • Answered questions lots of viewers were asking.
  • Provided valuable information on topics people were searching for (this requires some keyword research).

Some examples of evergreen topics are "how to change a flat tire" or "how to cook perfect brown rice." Those tasks are challenging enough to warrant video tutorials, and people will watch them every season of the year.

2. Host YouTube Live Streams

When we hosted our first few live streams, 50-100 people showed up. Now we get hundreds of concurrent viewers, and with that boost in viewership comes plenty of additional Watch Time.

Check out the Watch Time we got from this two-hour live stream:

Let's do the math. If 600 people watch a two-hour live stream, for instance, that's 1,200 hours of Watch Time.

Nine to 12 months into your YouTube journey, give live streaming a chance. You will probably have a couple hundred subscribers to give you a nice chunk of Watch Time per stream.

3. Upload Videos Consistently

Viral videos are a wonderful thing; they give your channel a boost while attracting new viewers to your content.

But you shouldn't go into the video-making process intending to make a viral video. Few creators pull it off, and it's easier to just be consistent on YouTube. Stick to your posting schedule so that someday, you'll have enough videos to gain 4,000 hours across several uploads versus one video.

Let me give you an example. When we launched our Spanish language vidIQ channel, it grew slowly. But we knew we were creating good content consistently. And once YouTube had enough data and positive signals from our content, the channel started blowing up. No viral videos – just good, consistent content being shared with the right audience.

In the end, we didn't just reach 4,000 hours of Watch Time; we crushed it. Now our content is gaining traction, like this video with more than 800,000 views about getting your first 100 subscribers:

4. Go for Quantity over Quality

Increasing your Watch Time on YouTube is a numbers game. If you need 4,000 hours to get monetized, and your videos earn one hour on average, you would need 4,000 videos total.

That's just an example, though. Your channel can (and probably will) perform better than that. But the point I'm making is that you need a large collection of videos to reach your Watch Time goals.

Read More: Quantity Over Quality - The One Thing New YouTubers Should Focus On

That means you shouldn't be overly concerned with:

  • Creating the perfect video.
  • Editing your clips for unreasonable lengths of time.
  • Spending too many hours filming.

Find a way to produce content quickly without sacrificing the quality you need to be competitive on YouTube. Then upload your content and start working on the next video. Rinse and repeat.

5. Listen to Your YouTube Audience

The YouTube Studio has a wealth of analytics to explore, but some of the best growth advice will come from your subscribers. After all, they are your customers. Most of them know what they want to see, and they will tell you exactly what those videos are. Check the comment section of your next video to see what I mean. Highly engaged viewers will share video ideas and practically beg you to film those concepts.

Give some of these ideas a chance. If the videos perform well, you will have even more Watch Time under your belt.

How to Track YouTube Watch Time

Want to keep tabs on your Watch Time hours? The YouTube Studio has a dedicated page in the left-hand navigation panel called Monetization. This will show your subscriber and Watch Time progress.

If you want to keep tabs on additional metrics, like views per hour in the last 48 hours, download VidIQ. You'll get this awesome real-time stats bar for FREE.

Image of vidIQ's Real-Time Stats Bar for YouTube channels

Extra Tips to Increase YouTube Channel Watch Hours

Ready to collect some serious Watch Time? Here are extra tips to help you out:

  • Become obsessed with audience retention. The longer people watch your videos, the more Watch Time you will receive. How many people are still watching after the 30-second mark? Are viewers watching until the end, or do they watch 50% of a video on average? These are questions you should ask to create better content.
  • Don't make long videos just to reach 4,000 hours. You should make your videos just long enough to cover a specific topic. When viewers get bored and abandon a video, that hurts your Watch Time.
  • Don't "announce" the end of a video. Imagine this: What if every viewer watched a video until the end because they didn't know the end was coming? That would help you increase your watch hours on YouTube.

Want to learn more about reaching 4,000 hours of Watch Time? Check out this video for extra details:

You can't increase your Watch Time on YouTube without also increasing your views. Check out this guide to learn how to get more views on YouTube.