If you’ve used YouTube even in the slightest bit, then you’ve probably come across a view counter either at, or around 301+ hits, and a like/dislike bar well above that number. (It was only until recently that the plus icon was added. It used to only read 301.) I’ve noticed this for years, but never took the time to look up a reason why. If you’ve wondered about the lag in views on YouTube videos as well, here’s an explanation.

In case you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, you can see two examples below. 

Yesterday, Bring Me The Horizon streamed their new single, “Happy Song.” As you can imagine, the clip’s view count is doing very well right now, as it’s nearing the 900,000 marker. However, I took a screenshot of the video’s info bar around when the track was first posted, and, as you can see, the amount of likes and dislikes far outweighed the view count, which was seemingly stagnant at 301. 

For a separate example, I took a screenshot of the first official Suicide Squad trailer, which went live earlier today.

So, basically, once a video on YouTube hits a view count of around 300, the folks at YT headquarters begin analyzing the views to see if any are counterfeit (i.e. bots, misleading headlines, etc.). One of the simple ways they can do this is to see how long a viewer has watched the clip. If most of video’s hits are from people watching five-seconds and then leaving, then it’s obvious something isn’t quite right.

This video explains things a whole lot more in-depth, and even goes into the mystery behind why the number 301 was initially chosen to be the approximate line in the sand.