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Red vs. Blue Red vs. Blue

Austin, Texas-based internet animation studio Rooster Teeth, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, will be shut down after 21 years. General manager Jordan Levin announced the studio’s closure at an all-hands meeting and accompanying letter on Wednesday, March 6.

With the closure, approximately 150 Rooster Teeth full-time employees will be laid off, in addition to dozens of freelancers and contractors.

In his letter, available in full at the bottom of this article, Levin wrote:

[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 had been operating at a loss for years. In October 2023, Rooster Teeth showrunner Kerry Shawcross posted a video explaining how changes in online ad revenues at Youtube, a vital platform for Rooster Teeth programming, have caused the company to suffer financially.

To stem the bleeding, Rooster Teeth removed a significant portion of its most popular content from Youtube and made it exclusive to the Rooster Teeth website, where ad revenues would go directly to the studio rather than the hosting platform. That move seems to have been either ineffective or too late to have made a significant impact.

Rooster Teeth.
Rooster Teeth logo.

Rooster Teeth was founded in 2003 by Burnie Burns, Matt Hullum, Geoff Ramsey, Jason Saldaña, Gus Sorola, and Joel Heyman and had its first hit right out of the gate with Red vs. Blue.

One of the longest-running web series ever, Red vs. Blue is set in the Halo video game universe and stands out as one of the earliest and most successful examples of machinima, in which animated content is created through a video game engine. The series was visually limited in its early days but gained popularity thanks to its fun, witty characters and innovative storytelling.

Rooster Teeth ownership changed hands several times over the years, and eventually landed under the Warnermedia catalog after that company was purchased by AT&T in 2018. Reports have indicated that WBD has been trying to sell Rooster Teeth for some time now, but was unable to find a buyer. The parent company is still hoping to sell parts of the Rooster Teeth catalog, including Red vs. Blue and other popular web series like RWBY and Gen:Lock.

In a statement, Warner Bros. Discovery said:

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.

Although the label is being shuttered, the Roost Podcast Network, which distributes more than 80 podcasts, will continue its operations while WBD looks for a buyer for that service.

Here is Levin’s letter to Rooster Teeth staff:

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

In the coming days and weeks, we will have many questions to answer 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

Pictured at top: Red vs. Blue