Menu Menu

Rooster Teeth announces shut down after 21 years

For many Millennials, Rooster Teeth represented the first major shift into digital-only entertainment throughout the mid-noughties. Its closure is a goodbye to a bygone era.

Rooster Teeth, the digital-only production house that pioneered various internet shows in the noughties and tens, is shutting down after 21 years.

Parent company Warner Bros. Discovery is pulling the plug after numerous failed attempts to sell the brand and its entertainment division. Rooster Teeth’s general manager Jordan Levin made the announcement in an all-hands meeting on Wednesday, with an additional memo distributed to the company’s 150 full-time employees.

The move will affect all staff, as well as dozens of contractors and freelance creators.

An extract from Levin’s memo said that Rooster Teeth is ‘shutting down due to challenges facing digital media resulting from fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour and monetisation across platforms, advertising, and patronage.’

He also added that the company’s legacy is ‘not just a collection of content but a history of pixels burned into our screens, minds, and hearts.’

Warner Bros. Discovery is reportedly in talks to sell the rights to some of the production house’s intellectual properties, including its first and longest-running series ‘Red Vs. Blue’ and its animated mecha series ‘Gen:Lock.’

It will also be looking to sell the Roost podcast network, which covers a variety of different entertainment including gaming, true crime, fandom, comedy, and food. This network will still operate for the time being.

In a statement, Warner Bros. Discovery thanked the production company’s ‘groundbreaking creators […] and partners for their many years of success.’

At its peak, Rooster Teeth enjoyed a huge paying subscriber base. Its video-on-demand service, rebranded as First in 2016, had 225,000 paying members at the height of its popularity, which has since dwindled down to 60,000.

For over a decade, the company has not been able to turn a profit.

At its largest, it housed more than 400 full-time staff members and hosted in-person fan conventions known as RTX since 2011. Rooster Teeth has more than 45 million subscribers across its YouTube network, 1.2 million unique monthly visitors to its apps, and more than 4 million community members.

While it was undoubtedly a pioneer for online content, and one of the first companies to establish digital-only content as a commercially-viable alternative to mainstream television, Rooster Teeth faced waves of controversy over the years and was unable to keep up with a changing social media landscape.

In 2022, the company issued a public apology over accusations of toxic and sexist office culture. A former staff member came forward with her experiences of harassment, being underpaid, and marginalisation within the company.

Several male members of staff were removed from Rooster Teeth over the years for misconduct. Funhaus, a YouTube channel under the production house’s umbrella, fired one of its cast members Adam Kovic for inappropriate behaviour in 2020, for example. It was a pattern that repeatedly hit the company over time.

Changing hands several times across its lifespan, Rooster Teeth kept afloat despite diminishing returns in a market that began to prioritise short-form video, streaming, and less rigid, large-scale production houses.

As it became more accessible for creators to do everything independently on their own terms, there was less obvious necessity for big, large-scale companies with networks of influencers and talent.

For many older Gen Zers, Rooster Teeth represents a particular era of online content.

Toward the end of the noughties and in the early tens, the company was a serious leader in the online content space, particularly within gaming. Its death probably isn’t a surprise to most, but it is a melancholy moment for an era that has all but passed us by.