2017 has been over for quite a while now, so how did Ranneko Plays do? YouTube provides analytics to creators to give them a sense of what is popular on their channel, what demographics they appeal to, how long people are watching, etc. In theory, this should allow me to get meaningful information about my channel and help me find ways to improve my videos and grow my channel.
What did I release in 2017?
YouTube makes this information surprisingly difficult to collect, which means no pretty graphs, just text for this one.
During 2017, I published 334 videos, 331 of them following a fixed schedule, and 3 extras near the end of the year.
At the start of the year I released videos every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On April 10th I shifted to a daily release schedule and I am extremely pleased to have not missed a single update during that time even with an extensive travel schedule. It seemed that I was always building up and running down the buffer in response to an upcoming trip or time away during 2017.
During that time, I covered:
- Pillars of Eternity – Continued, paused though much of the year
- Torment: Tides of Numenera – Completed, also spent a fair amount of time on the beta
- Sunless Sea: Submariner – Completed
- Polybridge – Single Stream
- Pit People – Early Access (Completed the available storyline with Syfro)
- Renowned Explorers: International Society – Completed
- Abduction Blues – Some weird thing my friends made at a game jam
- My Mom is A Witch – Dropped (Not very good)
- XCOM 2 – Dropped (Technical Difficulties)
- Massive Chalice – Completed
- XCOM 2: War of the Chosen – Completed
- Thimbleweed Park – Completed (Played with Syfro)
- Curious Expedition – Dropped (One bug too many)
- Star Realms – Dissecting Replays
- Heat Signature – Tips, replays, and a traditional let’s play
- Emily Is Away Too – Completed
- Firewatch – Started
That is a total of 17 different games, 15 if you exclude DLC and game jams games
On April 10th 2017, Ranneko Plays started to release videos every single day. I am quite proud of the fact I have not missed a single day since, but was it worth it?
How did my channel perform in 2017?
Before the end of February, I was generally seeing somewhere between 50 and 100 views a day. After February, days with a view count above 50 are few and far between.
Nope, not really, the watch time graph shows a situation that correlates closely with views. High through to the end of February, followed by a sharp decline and pretty much zero growth during the rest of the year.
The decline isn’t quite as sharp, which indicates that I kept more of the people actively watching my content and shed more people who only watched maybe 30 seconds or so then moved on, but for the most part the graph shows the same story, the channel pretty much just plodding along.
Unsurprisingly, the Subscriber graph shows pretty much the same thing. I gained 52 subscribers in 2017, 1 fewer than the subscribers gained in 2016. On YouTube you relatively rarely lose more subscribers than you gain. If I had managed to lose subscribers overall, then the rest of the graphs for the channel would be much more dire.
What does this mean?
Analytics are great at telling us what is happening, but raw numbers are pretty awful at telling us why something happened. What we should be doing is finding questions to ask based on these graphs and then try to answer them. I have come up with 3, but if you have any of your own, please let me know.
My questions are:
- Why were views so high at the start of the year?
- What changed that resulted in so many views dropping?
- There was a bump in watch time in the middle of the year (Late June to early July). What caused that?
Looking at the views and traffic from the first 2 months of 2017, the answer to the first question becomes clear. My most popular video series during that period was Torment Thursdays, my Torment: Tides of Numenera preview series. I suspect that either relatively few people were covering that game at the time, or there was just a lot of interest in it resulting in my videos being surfaced a lot.
What changed at the end of February? Torment: Tides of Numenera released. My assumption is: Most of my audience at the time was only there for that one series and either went off the play that game themselves, or to other Let’s Players that started covering it. This assumption is borne out by the lower drop in Watch Time, many of these viewers were finding my videos but quickly dropping them.
Why was there a mid-year bump? As it was a smaller change, it is harder to explain. Looking at the top videos from that time, it was again a period where a Let’s Play was getting more traction than various tip videos. In this case two different ones, Massive Chalice and my initial XCOM 2 series. I am not sure exactly why, but both gathered more dedicated watchers than the later XCOM 2: War of the Chosen series. In the case of Massive Chalice, I think my old Massive Tips for Massive Chalice videos just helped them surface more frequently, but if anyone has any theories I would love to hear them.