Warner Bros. Discovery to Shut Down Digital-Content Pioneer Rooster Teeth After 21 Years
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Warner Bros. Discovery to Shut Down Digital-Content Pioneer Rooster Teeth After 21 Years



Warner Bros. Discovery to Shut Down Digital-Content Pioneer Rooster Teeth After 21 Years

Rooster Teeth, the pioneering digital-content company known for its webisodes and series like “Red vs. Blue,” “RWBY,” and “Gen: Lock,” is being shut down by parent company Warner Bros. Discovery after 21 years of operation.

Jordan Levin, the production company’s general manager, announced the news to staff on March 6 and sent a company-wide memo also shared to Rooster Teeth’s website. You can read it in full below.

“It’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,” Levin wrote in the memo.

The shuttering of Rooster Teeth will result in the layoff of roughly 150 staffers, as well as numerous other contractors and creators put out of work. The Roost Podcast Network will continue as WBD looks to sell its associated assets, including “The RT Podcast,” Anthony Padilla’s “I Spent a Day With…,” “The Kinda Funny Podcast,” and the podcast for the DC Max series “Peacemaker.” WBD is also looking to sell the rights to some of the IP in the Rooster Teeth library, such as Michael B. Jordan’s “Gen: Lock,” the anime series “RWBY,” and “Red vs. Blue.” Sony’s Crunchyroll could be a plausible landing spot for some of the castoffs.

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

Warner Bros. Discovery has $44 billion in debt remaining on its books; the company has been looking to reduce that debt load wherever it can. Writing off movies like “Coyote vs. Acme” and “Batgirl” have been small ways in which the company has trimmed costs. Rooster Teeth had been operating at a loss for the better part of a decade, and it has gone through numerous owners in that time before becoming absorbed by WarnerMedia, now Warner Bros. Discovery.

The company has been aggressive with other cuts and layoffs across the corporation. Since Warner Bros. and Discovery merged in 2022, the company let go staffers from HBO and HBO Max, Warner Bros. TV group, and Turner Sports and Bleacher Report. It also combined Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation, it killed CNN+ not long after it launched, and it laid off several key staffers at Turner Classic Movies (TCM) before a trio of directors in Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Martin Scorsese stepped in to save the classic movie network.

Rooster Teeth launched in 2003 — before YouTube was even a thing — and was a pioneer in the digital content game. The early days saw “Red vs. Blue” go from viral video to become one of the longest running web series ever. The company eventually branched out into live-action shorts, comedy series, video-game development, plus podcasts on food, fandom, and lifestyle, and much more. Rooster Teeth’s YouTube channel has more than 9 million subscribers and has racked up billions of views.

The company in its earliest days had a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service that, at its peak, had more than 225,000 subscribers. Today it has just 45,000, and Warner Bros. Discovery will be contacting subscribers about the service shutting down.

The company was founded by Burnie Burns, Matt Hullum, Geoff Ramsey, Jason Saldaña, Gus Sorola, and Joel Heyman. Levin was tapped to lead the team in 2019 as part of a re-organization that saw Burns, Hullum, and Ramsey taking on new creative roles. Burns left the company in 2020.

In an effort to reach profitability, Rooster Teeth has dramatically trimmed staff over the years. The company started selling merchandise and hosting in-person fan events as far back as 2011, but Levin revealed that even its massive RTX fan event in Austin “has never been profitable for us,” and the 2024 edition of the event was recently canceled.

Rooster Teeth RWBY
‘RWBY’ from Rooster Teeth

Dear Rooster Teeth,

Since our founders created and uploaded their first video on the then-called World Wide Web in 2003, Rooster Teeth has been a source of creativity, laughter, and lasting innovation in the wildly volatile media industry.

We’ve read the headlines about industry-wide layoffs and closures, and you’ve heard me give my perspective and updates on the rapidly changing state of media and entertainment during each of our monthly All Hands meetings.

Since inheriting ownership and control of Rooster Teeth from AT&T following its acquisition of TimeWarner, Warner Bros. Discovery continued its investment in our company, content and community. Now however, it’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.

Please note, the Roost team is not currently impacted by this action as the Roost Podcast Network will continue operating and fulfilling its obligations while WBD evaluates outside interest in acquiring this growing asset.

We have many questions to answer in the coming days and weeks, and the opportunity to work together to implement the best way to wind things down for us and our community. We’re working through what comes next in real time, and we will be as open, direct, and accessible as possible. Thank you all in advance for your patience and support of one another.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate our 21-year contribution to the zeitgeist, advancing creativity and outlasting many of our peers from the early days of online video and digital-first content.

**** TO A CREATIVE LEGACY ****
From a garage in Buda, TX, to global screens large and small, our teams of dreamers and doers have introduced and grown what made Rooster Teeth stand out: animation, comedy, and gaming. From new forms of animated comedy with machinima to countless viral memes, including the Immortal Snail (aka Snail Assassin), to a US-born animated series embraced by Japan as anime, and record-breaking (at the time) crowdfunded movies. You’ve accomplished so much and made dreams come true here. You’ve turned original IP into video games, comic books, and VTubers. You’ve directed short videos, mo-cap, and films. You’ve puppeteered, hosted podcasts, and have built a thriving community that spans the globe. Your creativity knows no bounds, and you’ll continue contributing significantly to culture wherever your paths may take you.

**** TO THOSE WHO COME FIRST ****
Despite passing through many corporate owners, Rooster Teeth transcended a media business and was a dynamic movement that shaped the bond between communities, creators, and storytelling. Our founders didn’t have a blueprint for a media empire, but they got close to building one alongside a community that fueled its remarkable growth. In its earliest days, RT relied on community sponsorship through time, dollars, and unwavering passion. Volunteers evolved into staff, and the snowball effect grew, resulting in new relationships, marriages, births, and shared experiences that have changed lives.

**** TO TRAILBLAZING CONTENT CREATION ****
Our approach to content creation on emerging platforms paved the way for new media models. We inspired generations of creators across streaming, machinima, animation, let’s plays, merch drops, touring, podcasting, and more. Companies like GameStop, YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, and TikTok asked us to collaborate with them in their earliest days because we set a standard for what a digital-first brand could be. We boldly took our content beyond screens and into community-driven experiences.

**** TO A CHANGING INDUSTRY ****
Every story reaches its final pages. Rooster Teeth’s closure isn’t merely an end; it reflects broader business dynamics. Monetization shifts, platform algorithms, advertising challenges, and the ebb and flow of patronage—all these converging factors have led to many closures in the industry. While we learn about updates on programming day by day, we will share our plans for shows, franchises, partnerships, and merch soon and share those updates with teams internally and with the community on RoosterTeeth.com

**** TO OUR FINAL SEASON ****
Though not intentional, It’s only appropriate that our last season of “Red vs. Blue” coincides with us navigating this closure together. Our legacy is not just a collection of content but a history of pixels burned into our screens, minds, and hearts. Rooster Teeth has made an indelible mark on the media industry, and we should be so proud of the countless ways we pioneered a business connecting creators and content with a dedicated community.

With respect, gratitude, and sincere appreciation,
Jordan Levin

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