Why your subscribers aren't watching your videos

Many small YouTubers get concerned when they look at their subscriber number. Not because they’re not growing fast enough (although that might be a reason, too), but because their subscribers don’t seem to watch their videos. But why in the world would people subscribe and then not watch your videos?

There are a few possible reasons. So let’s look at them and see if we can fix this:

1) Your new content is not what they’ve signed up for

Emphasis on new. When your subscribers originally signed up to receive your videos, they were expecting a specific type of content. They might have found your channel interesting because they saw a specific video, video series or topic. Then, if you don’t continue delivering videos of the same type, your content becomes irrelevant to them. They are not getting what they’re interested in, so why should they keep watching your videos?

What you can do about it: Give them more of what they want. Most of your subscribers come from an Adobe Premiere tutorial you made? Make more Adobe Premiere tutorials! If most of your subs come from doing unboxing cool gadgets, do more unboxing (or make more videos about this specific gadget)!

How do you know why people subscribed to your channel, though?

There are two ways to figure it out:


In your analytics you can see where most people clicked on the subscribe button. Simply go to Analytics/Subscribers in your account, and then choose „Lifetime“ to get the most data.


(Choose “Subscribers” in the menu to get more information about the subscribers of your YouTube channel.)

lifetime youtube subscribers

(Pick “Lifetime” to get the most data.)

Now click on “Videos” below the graph to get information about what videos your subs are coming from:

youtube subscribers

You will get a top list of videos that brought you your most subscribers:

popular youtube videos

You might discover that most people click on the subscription button when they’re browsing your channel. In this case you can’t find out what originally brought them to it. However, you can get an idea about what’s the most likely source of your subscribers.

Your most popular videos

These are the videos that are most likely to bring you a ton of new subscriptions. However, „most popular“ isn’t necessarily the same as „most viewed“. Your most popular videos are the videos that get the best positive engagement (likes, positive comments, shares, links) AND a high number of views.


2) You publish your videos at inconvenient times

You published your New Year’s celebration video on January 1 at midnight? Then don’t be surprised if nobody interrupted their New Year’s Eve party to watch it. Publishing your videos during busy times means that less of your subscribers will discover it in their inboxes and their notifications.

While YouTube sends out emails with a delay anyway, push notifications show up immediately after you publish your video. So if you’re publishing your video while your audience is at school, work or celebrating a holiday, the notification for your video might not be seen immediately and then get drowned by other incoming messages.

What you can do about it: Don’t publish your videos at inconvenient times. What „inconvenient“ means depends on your audience. When are they busy, and when do they have time to watch your videos? If your viewership consists mostly of high school students, for example, you might want to avoid scheduling your videos for the morning or afternoon. If your audience is made up of college students or single moms, your optimal schedule might look entirely different, though.

Tubefilter analyzed their own channels in order to find out the perfect uploading time and day. Here are their results:




3) Your viewers’ interest has changed

Over time many of your viewer’s interests will change. That means that your channel will become less relevant to them and that they become less likely to click on your new videos.

What you can do about it: This is a completely natural process and it doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. In many cases there’s nothing you can do about is; however, make sure to keep your channel interesting in the long term. By testing out new video ideas, you can keep your channel fresh and interesting for your subscribers and even attract new viewers at the same time. If your channel is about Game of Thrones, you can experiment with videos about other fantasy TV shows or books, for example.

4) You did sub4sub or bought your subscribers

Have you done sub4sub, by any chance, or did you pay for some of your subs? Well, there you go. Subscribers that you acquired through these methods are highly unlikely to ever watch your videos. That’s why you should avoid these tactics in the first place.

What you can do about it: There’s nothing that you can do about it now. Just don’t make the same mistake twice. 🙂

Also, check out the other reasons why sub4sub and paid subscribers are dangerous for your channel.  

5) Your expectations are too high

If you are still in the beginning of your YouTube career, your expectations might simply be too high. Many new YouTubers make the mistake of thinking that most of their subscribers will watch their videos.

In reality, the percentage of subscribers who will view your videos, is pretty low.

Think of less than 15%; in many cases, 5-10% is pretty good.

What you can do about it: To get an idea about what’s a good percentage in your niche, observe other channels in your niche and see how many views they get during the first two days. Although not all of these first views will come from subscribers, this can give you a good estimate of what’s realistic and what isn’t.

How many of your subscribers are currently watching your video?  Let us know in the comments!

Written by Anna
Anna spends a lot of time thinking about YouTube, video and the future of TV. She has worked as a composer, actress, director, writer and online marketer. When she's not working on a new creative project, she's probably stuffing herself with vegan burgers. She's German but spends most of her time in Barcelona because they have better beaches.