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RWBY creator Rooster Teeth shutting down proves that popularity may not equal prosperity

Warner Bros. Discovery is in talks to sell properties like RWBY and Gen:Lock, despite their considerable fandoms

Image credit: Rooster Teeth

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It's easy to look at influencer culture and infer that the formula for financial success is 'like + subscribe' - that being popular is being financially successful. But the most recent development from internet giant Rooster Teeth is a strong case against that assumption; despite its massive swath of fans and ownership of titanic American anime brands RWBY and Gen:Lock, Rooster Teeth is shutting down.

The story comes to us from Variety, who report that parent company Warner Bros. Discovery is shutting down the gaming and entertainment platform after "unsuccessful attempts to sell." Variety also reports that popular IPs like the ones mentioned above are in talks to be sold.

The news comes only a year after Rooster Teeth celebrated its 20th Anniversary, boasting "more than 45 million followers and more than 5 million weekly unique viewers across channels." Even more recently, Rooster Teeth's creations tangled with some of the most popular IP in existence, with 2023's Justice League X RWBY: Super Heroes and Huntsmen.

But even during these times of high popularity, Rooster Teeth had money problems. According to the Variety article mentioned above, "Rooster Teeth has operated at a loss for the past decade." If this is true, Rooster Teeth has been unprofittable to Warner Bros. for nearly its entire time under the umbrella; the network became a division in 2014. Even the platform's Austin-based convention RTX, which at its height reached 65K attendees, has never been profitable - a claim Variety says staff has been told.

So what about the real reason for Rooster Teeth's financial insoluability? If clicks don't mean cash, what does? Well, the answer is complicated. According to RT general manager Jordan Levin, "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."

He's right. The internet and, more importantly, how people interact with it are very different than when Rooster Teeth posted its first Red vs. Blue video in 2003. In RT's case, what used to be a small group of gamers posting goofy animations became a brand sought after by one of the largest corporations in the world, presumably because they thought devotees would turn into dollars. That they didn't was the brand's ultimate downfall, as much as it could be for any influencer you're subscribed to now.

Rooster Teeth shutting down won't kill the meteoric rise of anime culture in the US. For all the best anime & manga coverage, trust Popverse.

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About the Author
Grant DeArmitt avatar

Grant DeArmitt

Contributing writer

Grant DeArmitt (he/him) likes horror, comics, and the unholy pairing of the two. He has written for Nightmare on Film Street and Newsarama, despite their better judgement. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Kelsey, and corgi, Legs.