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How long should a youtube video be in 2020 (with examples)

How long should a youtube video be in 2020 (with examples)
Written by: Dexxter Clark, 03-02-2020
What is the ideal length for a YouTube video? How long should your YouTube videos be?
In this article I tell you why the numbers in so-called “studies” contradict, I dive into the numbers of my own channels, how long videos should be for monetization and why making smaller videos is sometimes better.


Why are most YouTube videos over 10 minutes?

Over the last few years it has become a trend to make longer YouTube videos.
That is for one reason only: to increase watch time.
Since watch time is the most important ranking factor on YouTube, every creator wants the biggest piece of the pie for themselves, hence they make longer videos.

Besides making longer videos, the best way to rank higher is to increase audience retention.
My article: "Rank #1: improve audience retention on YouTube" is a detailed guide on the topic.

How to read contradicting numbers

There have been multiple studies over the years that tried to answer the question: What is the ideal YouTube video length?
The funny thing is, that numbers in those studies contradict each other.
Those contradicting numbers are also the answer to that question: it depends.

There are so many variables that can skew the results:
  • the type of channel/video (vlog, tutorial, review etc.)
  • the age of the audience
  • the language
  • the geographic target
  • the video host
Just to name a few…

On my gaming channel my target audience is more patient than my DJ channel.
I can make a 30 minute video on my gaming channel and I can reach an audience retention of 50% with ease.
On my DJ channel I have to work really hard on a 15 minute video to get a 50% audience retention (if I get there at all).
The host for both channels is the same, the topic is different.

What is the ideal YouTube video length 2020?

As long as you can make it, without getting boring.
I would shoot for at least 10 minutes for reasons I will explain later in this article.

That last part “without getting boring” is very important!
Some topics just don’t have enough “meat” for a 10 minute video.
Never make the video longer for the sake of making it longer.

You will shoot yourself in the foot when you make the video longer than it needs to be, since viewers don’t want to see fluff in a video: they want to see a solution for their problem.

If you solve the problem and fill the video with fluff, viewers will leave, which hurts your audience retention (a.k.a. your rankings) and viewers might not even see the video in the first place because YouTube doesn’t even suggest the video.

If the beginning of your video is filled with fluff, and you solve the problem at the end of the video, viewers will leave before they even have seen the “meat” of the video.
Also this hurts your rankings because of bad audience retention and thumbs down.

The video lengths of my top 10 performing videos on my DJ channel:
video length
best daw 9:02
best laptop 9:42
review 2i2 10:59
best laptop 9:32
Rekordbox usb export 1 5:58
Rekordbox begin #1 22:06
producer computer 7:34
producer computer ext 14:15
camelot keys 7:28
mac vs pc 9:58
Let’s take a look at the top 10 performing videos of my gaming channel:
video length
how spot fake 22:33
everdrive 3:07
cdrom collector 5:19
CD Rot 21:27
best collector app 5:59
no more cd 2:47
mega sg 6:23
retron 5 12:25
red dead redemption 6:57
mac vs pc 9:58
You see that my 1 hour tutorials on my DJ channel not even make it in the top 10?
My “Rekordbox begin #1”-video is a video that I split up from a big video.


One remarkable thing I noticed by looking at the numbers is, that the best videos are generally longer than 5 minutes.
Out of curiosity I looked specifically at the few shorter videos, they tend to do very bad, even if the topic is great (enough search volume and low competition).
My suggestion is: experiment!
Find out for yourself, because your audience is different than mine.

Splitting YouTube videos up or not?

As stated, watch time is important for ranking your video on YouTube.
Preferably all information should in just one video instead of a couple of smaller ones, just because of watch time, BUT...
that is not always the best course of action.
  • When a viewer searches for a specific piece of information, finding that small piece of information in a one hour video can be pretty hard, if they find it at all (and don’t abandon the video prematurely)
  • When a viewer sees that the video is one hour long, they might not even click on the video in the first place
  • The video might not even show up in the search results on a certain topic
For these reasons, I would say: make one long video, and separately release “shorter clips” on selected topics as separate YouTube videos.

For example:
I have made a 90 minute tutorial on a DJ player.
I looked at Google and YouTube search (auto suggest) to see if people are searching for specific topics on that player.

I made separate videos for the topics that people searched on.
At the end of every video (of the small videos) I did a hand-off to the playlist with all the small videos and even the big video with all the topics.
By doing the hand-off you can increase session watch time.

Best YouTube video length for monetization

First of all, there is no minimum length for monetizing videos.
But for optimal revenue sakes, make your video is at least 10 minutes, because you can place extra mid-role ads in the video.

You can place as many mid-roll ads in your video as you want (I never tried to max it out to be honest), however that is not the optimal viewer experience.
Three mid-roll ads in a 20 minute video is too much in my opinion.
I have seen a strong correlation between drop-off points and ad breaks in my audience retention graphs.

You can place pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ads.
The post-roll ads are switched off by default.
Use all three to optimize your video revenue.

One side note: in order to monetize your videos, you need to be a member of the YouTube partner program.

What is the maximum length of a YouTube video?

I never ran into trouble with my video length (in contrast to other social media platforms).
I have videos on my channel that are 90 minutes long.
But I’ve see also videos on YouTube that are 8 hours long.

There is probably a technical limit, but in all those years I never bumped into it.

Why can I upload only 15 minute videos?

That is because you didn’t verify your account.
YouTube’s incentive to verify is to allow you longer video uploads.

If you are serious about YouTube and want to take it to the next level, take a look at my YouTube e-book.
The book takes you step-by-step through the process of starting a YouTube channel.
How to get more views, subscribers, make money with YouTube, go viral ... and much more.
Click here for more information about my YouTube e-book: "What Big Tubers Don't tell you"

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Music Producer / YouTuber

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