Alphabet continues to make fundamental changes to YouTube Shorts, and even the developers don’t have absolute clarity about how this feature may evolve in the future. This uncertainty can compel most content creators like you to wonder: can YouTube Shorts hurt your channel?
YouTube Shorts cannot hurt your channel financially because those videos don’t affect your revenue per mille (RPM). However, YouTube Shorts can affect a channel’s analytics and branding. If this impact is negative, YouTube Shorts may hurt your channel.
YouTube hasn’t published any official data, and there is no large-scale peer-reviewed analytics to study a widespread trend or potential impacts of Shorts on a channel. This means the only data I can use are the effects of different parameters and what channels have self-reported.
How YouTube Shorts Can Hurt Your Channel
Alphabet developed YouTube Shorts to compete with and outperform TikTok. For channels and content creators, YouTube Shorts can be a way to attract a new audience that prefers shorter videos on their smartphones. How does that play out in reality?
#1 Branding Challenges
The branding challenges are distinct for a channel. YouTube Shorts are more popular among the youth, so a channel catering to younger audiences may benefit from creating and posting shorter content. On the flip side, older audiences prefer longer videos.
Let me use the analytics data of a YouTube channel, Dunna Dit It, to elaborate.
‘Dunna Dit It’ posted 4 regular videos and 4 YouTube Shorts and assessed their impacts for a period of 28 days. The average of 3 previous periods of 28 days each was used as the baseline.
Here are a few concerning facts:
- Dunna Dit It gained 40% and lost 10% more subscribers than the preceding average during the 28-day test period.
- However, the regular videos accounted for 72% of these new subscribers compared to YouTube Shorts’ 28% contribution.
- More importantly, the regular videos accounted for only 55.6% of the subscribers lost vis-a-vis YouTube Shorts’ 44.4%.
- Therefore, YouTube Shorts accounted for a higher percentage of subscribers lost than gained compared to regular videos.
Subscribers Gained vs. Lost With YouTube Shorts
YouTube Shorts and regular videos have vastly different runtimes. Thus, a fitting comparison is per minute of content created. Here’s the net impact on subscribers per minute of regular videos and YouTube Shorts:
|Videos||Subscribers Gained Per Minute||Subscribers Lost Per Minute||Ratio|
The significantly higher proportion of subscribers lost vs. gained with YouTube Shorts is a worry.
#2 Average View Duration
YouTube Shorts will reduce your channel’s average view duration, one of the platform’s key metrics.
Your channel is likely to get more views with YouTube Shorts, but the total watch time doesn’t increase proportionately. Since YouTube Shorts are less than 60 seconds, the total watch time doesn’t increase as significantly as the number of additional views.
A declining average view duration can affect your channel’s analytics, and the algorithm may lower your ranking in your niche.
YouTube has categorically said that Shorts are not accounted for in their revenue per mille (RPM) calculation. However, there is no final word on its impact on ranking.
#3 Net Impact on Revenue
The total number of views and the channel’s watch time will increase with YouTube Shorts. However, these views and watch times don’t matter for the RPM. So, your RPM may appear lower than it should be because YouTube Shorts aren’t monetized.
Also, the watch time of YouTube Shorts isn’t added to your channel’s total for YouTube Partner Program’s eligibility. Thus, YouTube Shorts is akin to gaining a lot of views on Twitch without earning much money, while regular videos have a real impact on potential revenue.
Let me revisit the branding concern in this context. The new subscribers for YouTube Shorts will not spike your revenue. However, if you lose some patrons of your regular videos in the process, your RPM is likely to plummet. Having said that, there’s another side to this story.
Why YouTube Shorts Cannot Hurt Your Channel
Relying on what I have read and heard from official YouTube spokespeople and developers, the platform doesn’t have any policy that enables YouTube Shorts to hurt your channel. Plus, you have to consider the potential benefits.
#1 Many More Overall Views
YouTube Shorts clock more views than regular videos for many channels. Even Dunna Did It had 8 times as many views of Shorts than the longer videos. More views increase the likelihood of gaining subscribers and greater engagement, such as likes, comments, and shares.
#2 Greater Total Watch Time
More views increase the total watch time. Although this watch time isn’t monetized, the viewers may check out some of the other longer videos on your channel and possibly subscribe as well. Neither progression can hurt your channel in any way. In fact, both are immensely beneficial.
#3 Much Better Engagement
Increasing views and watch time can boost engagement. Dunna Did It received 6 times more comments on YouTube Shorts compared to the regular videos. This engagement isn’t a unique case. Many YouTubers are witnessing a lot more engagement with Shorts than regular content.
#4 New and Larger Audience
YouTube is trying to woo younger audiences with Shorts. The company believes it can then transition the new viewers to watching longer videos. That’s precisely what Block Facts did.
The Block Facts channel has been around since September 13, 2013. But the channel became notably active following the rollout of YouTube Shorts. Block Facts posted 27-second videos as Shorts. Each of those short videos has 1 to over 5 million views.
After more than a year of scores of viral YouTube Shorts, Block Facts switched to longer videos. And the channel successfully carried ~1.4 million subscribers from Shorts to regular videos on demand. Block Facts is now a monetized channel with regular videos clocking millions of views.
YouTube Shorts Fund Eligibility
Not every channel can be Block Facts, and YouTube Shorts won’t contribute anything to their Partner Program. However, you can generate an income courtesy of the YouTube Shorts Fund.
The eligibility criteria for the $100 million fund aren’t demanding if you can create original Shorts without copyright infringement and follow the Community Guidelines. You may qualify to earn a monthly revenue or get a bonus as per the fund’s provisions.
The utility and futility of YouTube Shorts for channels can be up for intense debate. But YouTube Shorts is unlikely to hurt your channel if you consider all the facts and data I’ve shared. In the worst scenario, a channel may have a few branding issues, which are usually manageable.