Why People Stop Watching Videos

Why people stop watching your videos

Table of contents

Picture this. You crafted your video, uploaded it, and now the views are rolling in. But when you check the viewer stats, you notice something concerning. Why did people stop watching your videos?

The engagement stats consistently show people stop watching your video before it ends. Some stay for a few seconds, others a few minutes. But, despite the fact that there is important information throughout, almost no one makes it all the way through.


There are a lot of reasons people stop watching a video. A few of them are out of your control, but there are a lot of things you can do to ensure that most people who find your video will stick around until the end.

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Graph showing the number of viewers who watch two or more instructional videos per week rising from 21% is 2016 to 53% in 2018.

That’s more than double the 21% who reported the same thing in 2016.

So, if you’re making videos that show someone how to do something, there’s almost certainly an audience who wants to watch.

But just because they show up and click play, doesn’t mean they stick around. So why do people stop watching?

To understand that, let’s look at why they started watching in the first place.

Keep your promises

Most people start watching a video because they are interested in the topic or need the information it contains. In other words, they were intrigued by the content the video claimed to provide. And, the most common way they figure out what your video is about is by reading the title and description.

graph showing why viewers choose a video

This is incredibly important. The number-one reason people start watching a video is an interesting topic, the top reason they stop watching videos is they didn’t get what they wanted. See the problem? Users express this problem in their own words, too. In fact, 42% of people said they stopped watching a video because they were not getting the information they expected, or it didn’t cover the right topic.

Graph showing top reasons people stop watching a video. The most common reason was that they weren't getting the information they expected.

It’s simple —if you want to keep people watching, your video’s title and description must match the content the video provides. 

This may seem obvious, but in this era of clickbait headlines and misplaced emphasis on “going viral,” it’s tempting to maximize your click rates with outrageous claims about your content.

If all you care about is clicks, that’s fine. But if you really want to engage viewers with content that will help them learn something new, make sure you deliver what you promise.

Write a clear headline, use your description to accurately depict the content, and people will know what to expect — and, they’ll be more likely to keep watching until the end.

People stop watching videos that aren’t interesting

Is your video entertaining and engaging? Nearly 25% of respondents to our research said that a boring video made them stop watching, making it the second most common reason viewers dropped off.

But what if it’s just a boring topic? 

Let’s face it, not every instructional or educational video topic will have your audience on the edge of its seats. Some topics are simply (relatively) boring.

But that doesn’t mean your content has to be uninteresting. Even the most mundane topic can be made engaging. Here are a few techniques you can use to keep your viewers engaged:

9 ways to make your videos more interesting

1. Tell a story and make it relevant to your audience’s real lives. 

2. Use an engaging speaker or voiceover to present the topic with passion and excitement.

3. Show your (or someone else’s) face! A visible speaker offers an authentic expert voice in your video. Whether it’s you or someone else, a face can help your viewers relate better to you.

4. Include practical, real-life examples that your viewers can easily apply to their own lives.

5. Use effective visuals, like images and icons to illustrate your concepts.

6. Be mindful of when you repeat information, or when you slow down your explanations. Both can be effective, but can also make your video feel plodding.

7. Use humor where appropriate.

8. Use plain language and avoid overly formal expressions or jargon. Explain technical terms in ways that people can easily understand.

9. Encourage viewers to actively follow along and interact. Post thought-provoking questions and/or ask for comments, feedback, and other engagement.

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Right-size your video

The common wisdom for video length is that shorter is better. For the most part, that’s a good rule to follow. But I really like to think of it as right-sizing your video — that is, making sure the video is the right length to cover the topic in the most efficient and effective way. 

Graph showing preferred video length. 37% of people prefer videos between one and four minutes in length. 22% of people prefer videos of 10 to 19 minutes.

Our study showed that 37% of people preferred videos between one and four minutes. That’s not surprising. But what did surprise us was that 22% of people showed a preference for videos between 10 and 19 minutes in length. That’s the same percentage of people who prefer videos between three and four minutes. 

So, it’s not just that people want short videos. People won’t stop watching a video just because it’s long. It just has to be engaging, entertaining, and provide the information they need in a way that’s understandable and relevant. 

Three ways to make sure your videos are the right length. Text is the same as the paragraph below.

Here are a few tips to ensure your video is the right length:

1. Know your audience, as well as their needs and expectations.

2. Don’t try to do too much (or too little).

3. Have a goal and create content that meets that goal.

Audio, the biggest reason people stop watching videos

As part of our research, we analyzed nearly 100 videos submitted to us by survey participants as examples of great videos.  Roughly 75% of the videos submitted that were deemed “great videos,” clear audio was the most common element. 

Graph showing common elements of videos analyzed by TechSmith for our research. The common quality was good audio and/or the narrator was easy to understand.

But that’s not all. Videos that received a four or five-star rating for “how accurately did the video achieve its goal” and “how did you personally rate the video” had even higher percentages of clear audio at 89%. So, while people may not stop watching a video because the audio is bad, good audio appears to keep people watching.

Make sure your audience can clearly hear and properly understand anyone speaking in your video. If you have music in your video, keep it far enough in the background that it doesn’t drown out your speaker.  

Luckily, you don’t need a professional recording studio to achieve good voice-over audio. A low-cost microphone and a quiet place to record can make a huge difference.

Video quality, the surprise not-so-important element

Probably the biggest surprise to come out of our study of video viewer habits was that video quality wasn’t a huge reason that people stopped watching videos. In fact, just 5% of respondents reported they stopped watching a video because the quality was poor. 

What does that mean for you? It means you don’t need super-fancy gear to make effective videos that people will watch. 

We used to focus solely on posting videos made by our in-house video professionals. 

Snagit YouTube homepage.

But recently, with more of our folks working from home, we’ve started making videos right from the comfort of our own houses. 

TechSmit's Matt Pierce's recording a video in his home studio.

And as a result, our channel is actually growing!

channel analytics for TechSmith youtube

You don’t need perfect video lighting and fancy equipment. You just need to get started. 

If you have a smartphone, screen recording software, a decent microphone, and a good video editor like Camtasia, you can make highly effective, engaging, and informative videos.

Fast, easy video editing.

No matter what type of video you need to create, Camtasia makes it easy with drag-and-drop editing, effects, transitions, and more!

Try Camtasia Free!
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Keep ‘em watching your videos

You have information to exchange, things to teach, and knowledge to share, but if people stop watching your videos before the end, they may miss out on what you’re trying to show. 

There are a lot of reasons people will stop watching a video. You can’t control them all, but by following the tips in this article, you can make sure that you’re doing everything in your power to meet your audience’s expectations with a video that keeps their attention and gives them the information they need in the most efficient and effective manner.

To learn more about how to make the best informational and instructional videos, download the full guide to Video Viewer Habits, Trends, And Statistics You Need to Know.