The Rooster Teeth community was hit hard by the company’s layoffs in September 2019. Almost as hard as the company itself. Among the well-wishes and sympathetic notes on social media, a darker discourse emerged: what would happen to the company’s well-established properties? Fans worried that Rooster Teeth’s biggest project yet (they had two movies, but this is bigger) was dead on arrival. The only sign of hope was the announcement that DC Comics and Rooster Teeth were teaming up on both gen:LOCK and RWBY comics.
Well, worry no longer! Rooster Teeth announced today that HBO Max would be the show’s new first-run home, with a season 2 renewal secured. To say that this is huge for a company that started with a Halo machinima web series (Red vs. Blue) produced in a spare room not even twenty years ago is an understatement. The little new media company that could might finally be getting something out of their controversial acquisition by Fullscreen/Otter Media (which are both arms of WarnerMedia) in 2014.
Rooster Teeth has released its programming on other platforms before, but never on this scale. The test run for gen:LOCK on HBO Max may have been the weekly airing of its eight-episode season on Adult Swim over August and September 2019. It received good ratings, which may have triggered WarnerMedia to realize its potential on its new streaming service. Rooster Teeth generally claims first-run rights to all their content, but they seem to be surrendering those rights for gen:LOCK. HBO Max will get season 2 for 90 days, after which the show will return to Rooster Teeth’s streaming site, under the FIRST community sponsorship banner.
Whether the long-standing Rooster Teeth community will be happy with this decision is another matter entirely. Rooster Teeth has long put its premium content exclusively on their website, and now this is a step in a different direction. However, this is also an opportunity for Rooster Teeth to strut their stuff before a wider audience, so to speak. Although Rooster Teeth’s brand was long independent, it was never guaranteed to stay that way forever, and in our world of mergers and acquisitions, this was all going to fall into place sooner or later.
Will this mean that future Rooster Teeth content will land on HBO Max? The company recently announced that it’s essentially splitting into two halves: Rooster Teeth’s higher-profile productions are now under the Rooster Teeth Studios banner; its more comedic and day-to-day (podcasts, gameplays, etc.) content under the Rooster Teeth Direct banner. It’s very possible today’s announcement signals a new paradigm for Rooster Teeth Productions…and its community of dedicated fans.