Rooster Teeth Shutting Down, WB to Sell RWBY and Other IPs

After 21 years, the Austin, Texas-based production house Rooster Teeth is closing its doors.

According to Variety, parent company Warner Bros. Discovery has opted to shut down Rooster Teeth’s operations following unsuccessful attempts to sell the company — which was unable to become profitable. Rooster Teeth’s closure will result in its roughly 150 full-time employees being laid off. Dozens of contractors will be affected as well. The process of shuttering RT is expected to take several months.

“[I]t’s with a heavy heart I announce that Rooster Teeth is shutting down due to challenges facing digital media resulting from fundamental shifts in consumer behavior and monetization across platforms, advertising, and patronage,” Rooster Teeth general manager Jordan Levin wrote in a company memo. “Our legacy is not just a collection of content but a history of pixels burned into our screens, minds, and hearts.”

Variety reports that Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to sell the rights to some of Rooster Teeth’s properties — including its flagship animated series, Red vs. Blue. The anime-inspired action series RWBY and the Michael B. Jordan-led mecha series gen:LOCK are also up for sale, as is RT’s Roost podcast network. In the meantime, the Roost will continue to operate.

“Warner Bros. Discovery thanks Rooster Teeth’s groundbreaking creators and partners, and the strong management team, for their many years of success,” WBD said in a statement of its own. “Your passionate and loyal fans are testament to your achievements.”

A Brief History of Rooster Teeth

The team of Burnie Burns, Matt Hullum, Geoff Ramsey (then called Geoff Fink), Gus Sorola, Joel Heyman, and Jason Saldaña founded Rooster Teeth in 2003. The company’s first production was the aforementioned Red vs. Blue, a parody of the Halo video game series.

Over the years, the company added even more animated series to its lineup — including Monty Oum’s RWBY, Gray Haddock’s gen:LOCK, Georden Whitman’s Nomad of Nowhere, and Jordan Cwierz and Miles Luna’s Camp Camp. The company also dabbled in live-action dramas, such as Day 5, and even live-action feature films, such as Lazer Team.

Moreover, Rooster Teeth spawned a popular spin-off gaming channel called Achievement Hunter, which Ramsey launched alongside Jack Pattillo in 2008. RT shut down Achievement Hunter in 2023, with a new brand called Dogbark taking its place. On that note, other gaming brands falling under the Rooster Teeth umbrella include Funhaus and Inside Gaming.

The Rooster Teeth catalog includes a number of podcasts and reality-based programs as well. Additionally, the company absorbed existing brands like ScrewAttack, producer of the popular webseries Death Battle. RT has also collaborated with fellow Warner Bros. company DC for comics and crossover animated films based on RWBY.

That said, Rooster Teeth was not always a WB property. Burns and co. founded the studio as an independent venture. However, Fullscreen acquired RT in 2014. In turn, Otter Media — a joint venture between AT&T and The Chernin Group — acquired Fullscreen. AT&T subsequently bought Chernin’s stake in Otter in 2018, making Rooster Teeth part of WarnerMedia. WarnerMedia then merged with Discovery, Inc. to form Warner Bros. Discovery in 2022.

It was in 2019 that WarnerMedia made Levin general manager of Rooster Teeth. The aforementioned Hullum acts as chief content officer, while Ramsey serves as executive creative director. RWBY star Barbara Dunkelman acts as creative director.

RT’s financial troubles

For all of its outward success, Rooster Teeth has struggled behind the scenes. At its height, the company had approximately 400 employees. However, it has continually downsized in an attempt to become profitable — to no avail. Variety reports that RT has operated at a loss for the last 10 years.

Rooster Teeth’s fans have long been essential to funding the company’s operations. From more or less the beginning, RT has utilized a subscription-based video-on-demand model. Paid members were called “sponsors” before the service rebranded as “FIRST” in 2016. At one point, FIRST had approximately 225,000 paid subscribers. However, the number now sits closer to 60,000. (WBD will be reaching out to subscribers about the service’s closure in the coming weeks.)

Rooster Teeth also operates its own merch store, and ran the RTX series of fan conventions from 2011 to 2023. The flagship event, RTX Austin, attracted roughly 600 paying attendees in 2011. That number sharply rose to about 30,000 by 2014 and 65,000 by 2018. According to Levin, however, RTX has never been profitable. As such, the company previously opted to cancel the planned 2024 convention outright. (No in-person events were held in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

In addition to its financial woes, Rooster Teeth has had to contend with increased public scrutiny in recent years. Former employees have accused the company of encouraging crunch culture, underpaying workers, and fostering a toxic environment. RT issued a public apology for the latter in 2022. Nevertheless, in light of the company’s impending closure, many have taken to social media to show solidary with the laid-off staffers.


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