What Is Time Watched?

Blog 3 min read | Mar 15, 2018 | JW Player


Part 5 of 5 from JW Player’s “Anatomy of a Video Series”

In telling the story of how and why viewers engage, we’ve now come to the final piece of the puzzle in our series on video fundamentals—“time watched.” Beyond embeds, ad impressions, plays, and completes, the “time watched” metric provides an added layer of nuance by identifying exact points of viewer drop-off and where you can improve your video strategy.

Time Watched, Defined

Time watched is the aggregate amount of time an individual has spent watching a player. This measurement takes into account that people might leave a video before it completes.

Let’s say your viewers watch 95% of a video and then shut down the player right before the end when the credits roll. Looking at a complete rate alone, you may infer that because there were no completes, engagement was low or nonexistent. But by looking at time watched, you can see that, in this case, the vast majority of the video was in fact consumed.


How Do You Measure Time Watched?

When one of our players takes an action—like delivering an ad or embedding onto a page—it reports that action back to JW Player via a ping. Most pings are based on a single action.

By contrast, time watched is measured by a continuous “heartbeat ping.” This ping is fired automatically at regular intervals throughout the duration of the video, essentially tapping into the “pulse” of how viewers watch content. As long as the video is running, the heartbeat ping registers, and this total time counts even if the video never completes.


Why Does Time Watched Matter?

Time watched prevents misleading conclusions from measuring completes alone and helps publishers figure out exactly how to make videos more engaging. By pinpointing where the heartbeat pings stopped and viewers dropped off in the video, this metric reveals what captured people’s attention, what didn’t, and what you can do to improve your content.

For example, let’s say you have a video with a long photo montage. If you find that people are dropping off in the middle of that segment, you might choose to make the montage shorter. If they are stopping the video as soon as the montage starts, you might replace that section with some other content to prolong viewer interest.

In short, relying only on a complete rate to gauge the effectiveness of your video could be imprecise. Considering completes along with time watched would paint a fuller picture of what happens after viewers click play.

Here at JW Player, we see time watched as a critical part of the algorithm for our Recommendations engine. A key factor for determining whether we surface a video in a recommended playlist is how long that video is typically watched.


Want to extend the time watched on your videos? Talk with one of our video experts.


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The “Anatomy of a Video” Series explores key measures of a video’s life cycle: embed, ad impression, play, complete, and time watched. Together, they provide a comprehensive picture of how and why viewers engage.


We hope you’ve enjoyed the series and will take advantage of all the insights that data offers in growing your video business!