Query YouTube Video XML Data

July 4, 2015 Update: YouTube has changed their API and the XML feed is now deprecated. Going forward, use this simple JSON feed to get information about a YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/oembed?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DVm3wabL5-Bk&format=json But replace the url with the url to the video you want.


You might know that one can obtain XML information about a YouTube video by its ID, using the YouTube API (basically downloading an XML document at a URL). The URL to do this is: http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/api/videos/VIDEO_ID replacing VIDEO_ID with the YouTube ID String. Example: http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/api/videos/iZ_wNWSV-aQ (Click it to see the XML data on a real video).

Here is a function to extract desired information from the XML document, in PHP:

Extract Information from a YouTube XML File:

// Get & Parse YouTube XML data
	static function getYouTubeInfo($id){

		$xml_data = @file_get_contents("http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/api/videos/".$id);
		if(strlen($xml_data) < 25){
// Not enough data
return Video::getYouTubeInfoBasic($id);
$doc = new DOMDocument();
$doc->preserveWhiteSpace = false;
		if( ! $doc->loadXML($xml_data) ){
    // Failed Loading XML Doc
			return Video::getYouTubeInfoBasic($id);

		$ret = array();

    // Get Thumbnail HREFs
		$media = $doc->getElementsByTagNameNS("*","thumbnail");

			foreach($media as $node){
				$ret["thumbnails"][] = $node->getAttribute("url");

    // Get Video Title
		$titles = $doc->getElementsByTagNameNS("*","title");

			$ret["title"] = $titles->item(0)->nodeValue;

    // Get Link to Video
		$link = $doc->getElementsByTagNameNS("*","player");

			if( $link->item(0) ){
				$ret['url'] = $link->item(0)->getAttribute("url");

		return $ret;

        // If the above function doesn't work (i.e. the XML is not available, 
      //    this function will be called to grab the information manually and check if a video exists by checking for thumbnails
	static function getYouTubeInfoBasic($id){

		$check = @get_headers("http://img.youtube.com/vi/".$id."/1.jpg",true);

    // Check if Thumbnail exists
		if( strpos($check[0],"404") > 0 || strpos($check[0],"400") > 0){
			return false;

		$ret = array();
		$ret['thumbnails'][] = "http://img.youtube.com/vi/".$id."/1.jpg";
		$ret['thumbnails'][] = "http://img.youtube.com/vi/".$id."/2.jpg";
		$ret['thumbnails'][] = "http://img.youtube.com/vi/".$id."/3.jpg";

		$ret['title'] = "Watch Video";
		$ret['url'] = "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=".$id;

		return $ret;

Sometimes requesting the YouTube XML data URL results in a 404 or 403 error. If the XML data is not found (usually when a video is new, but sometimes can happen even on old videos), there is a fail-safe function that checks if a YouTube video exists based on the existence of its thumbnails. With the fail-safe function, the title of the video is not obtained, though it could be edited to grab the Title by parsing the actual YouTube video page for the <title> tag.

Here’s another helpful function to extract the YouTube ID from different kinds of URLs and even the <embed> code that a user might copy & paste:

Extract YouTube ID From a String using Regular Expression

	static function getYouTubeID($str){
		$matches = array();

// Links from a user channel page will have the ID in the # hash tag
		if(strpos($str,"/user/") !== false && strpos($str,"#") !== false){
			$params = explode("/",$str);

			$the_id = array_pop($params);

			return $the_id;

// Normal YouTube public page link

// last resort, try getting ID from embed code

		return $matches[1];


Obtaining the Duration of the Video in Seconds

Use this snippet to read the duration of the video in seconds.

$durations = $doc->getElementsByTagNameNS("*","duration");
			$ret["duration"] = $durations->item(0)->getAttribute('seconds');
			// echo $ret['duration'];