You’ve interviewed guest ranging from futurists like Jacque Fresco to professional drug dealers like Howard Marks. What is your criteria in finding guests for your shows?
I have to personally find these people’s stories interesting, and I won’t lie, there MUST be an element of humility in them. Justin Bieber might have 41 million Twitter followers but I don’t give a shit. Has he suffered failure, has he endured, has he learned lessons? Ice-T once said it’s not about the come-up, it’s about the comeback! Story of my life.
Plus a lot of our guests have done their own exploration and published their stories on YouTube like Myles Dyer, spoken word artist Suli Breaks, the hip-hop preacher Eric Thomas, and parkour champions Timothy Shieff and Sebastien Foucan. I like that in a guest.
What does the future hold for long-form content on YouTube like “London Real”?
There seems to be a an assumption that everyone who uses YouTube has an attention span of no more than 90 seconds, and that long-form content can’t work, but we like to believe there are people out there that do enjoy an edited, real conversation. When we first started we had a strict 1-hour limit, and some viewers did complain that the show was too long, but far more were demanding we make it longer! Now our episodes are typically 90-minutes long and on occasion have even reached 2 hours. That said, we understand that not everyone has the time to watch all our full episodes so we’ve started a “Daily Dose” feature where we release short clips from our archive every Monday-Friday at 9 p.m. UK time.
London Real wouldn’t work solely on a short-form setup though; you just can’t get to know a guest properly like that. YouTube has changed a lot in recent years too, particularly in terms of how viewers are consuming content. It’s no longer necessary to sit at your desktop computer; people can choose to watch on mobiles, tablets, connected TVs, wherever and whenever they want. YouTube also seems to be actively encouraging more long-form content on the site — the fact that search rankings now reward videos with greater dwell time is something that has definitely worked in our favour. So overall we’re confident YouTube is a great place to be for long-form content creators like ourselves.