New & returning viewer tips

The Audience tab in YouTube Analytics offers a deep dive into your viewer base. From these charts, you can learn about who’s watching, how often they come to your channel, and where they’re coming from. Knowing your audience can help you plan your content strategy for a more engaged audience.

Understand Your Viewership Trends: New & Returning Viewers in YouTube Analytics

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Returning viewers

New and returning viewers chart in the Audience tab of Analytics.

The new and returning viewers data within the Audience tab is key when gathering insights about the growth of your community.

Returning viewers are viewers who have watched your channel previously and returned to watch more. If you see more returning viewers than new, you likely:

  • Post about similar formats or topics, or consistently work with the same host.
  • Have a more stable viewership from video to video given that your audience keeps coming back.

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Ideas to attract new viewers:

  • Consider experimenting with your content to appeal to a wider audience. New videos about topics you’re interested in and designed to reach more people could help you attract new viewers to your regular programming. For instance, lifestyle creators may vlog about fashion week or a chef may review a new restaurant or food trend.
  • Look at how you package this new content. Packaging includes titles and thumbnails. Be sure to also think about how to redesign it to reach new viewers who may not know you.

New viewers are viewers who watched something on your channel for the first time in the selected time period. Keep in mind that:

  • If you’re seeing more new viewers than returning, viewers may be more interested in a specific topic or video than the theme of the channel as a whole. There may not be many loyal viewers but there is more opportunity to reach a broader audience and more viewers.
  • New viewership can be seen with “how-to” channels. For example, channels where viewers watch videos that answer specific questions. Viewers may not necessarily return after they get their answer.

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Think of ways to build a more loyal audience:

  • Try creating content that’s more consistent in topic or format.
  • Create a series of videos from topics that have already proven popular with your viewers.
  • Think of ways to engage more with your community, like responding to comments.

Finally, you could have an equal mix of new and returning viewers. This mix may mean that you’re doing well at maintaining engagement while also attracting new viewers.

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For the period of time that you see an even mix, pay attention to the type of content you’ve produced. Think about what you’ve been doing that’s working for your channel and how to continue it.

Unique viewers

Chart of unique viewers on your channel in the Audience tab of Analytics.

You can use unique viewers data to get a clearer picture of your audience size. Viewer data can also be used to estimate the number of viewers who came to watch your videos over a given time period. Whether they watch on a computer or mobile, or watch more than once, that counts as one unique viewer.

Some ways you can use unique viewers data include:

  • Compare unique viewers to your subscribers and identify videos that helped you tap into a wider audience beyond your subscribers.
  • Identify where your video appealed to new audiences. You can find this by comparing your channel’s unique viewers before and after publishing the video.

If your subscriber count is higher than your unique viewers:

Don’t worry, most creators notice this on their channel. Subscribers can become inactive over time as they may:

  • Only watch videos occasionally.
  • No longer keep up with your channel.
  • No longer log into YouTube.

If you would still like to take action:

  • Remind viewers to turn on channel notifications.
  • You may be looking at a shorter time range. Expand the time range—new uploads may get viewers to come back so your unique viewers may increase.

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Think of ideas to attract new viewers:

Subscribers

Total number of channel subscribers chart in the Audience tab of Analytics.

Your audience’s watch time divided between non-subscribers and subscribers.

Why are my returning viewers less than my subscribers?

Your subscriber count reflects how many viewers have subscribed to follow your YouTube channel, not the number of viewers watching your videos. Viewers are often subscribed to dozens of channels and may not return for every new upload for channels they're subscribed to.

Does YouTube’s recommendation system optimize for returning viewers?

Our recommendation system aims to offer viewers more videos and channels they’re likely to enjoy. If viewers are returning to your channel regularly to watch more, they’re more likely to be recommended more of your videos in the future.

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Subscribers have been shown to watch twice as much video as non-subscribers. Look at what subscribers like and watch in comparison to non-subscribers. This info can help you think of ways to engage your subscribers to become long-term fans.

Next: check out tips to learn who your viewers are

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