Listicles, investigative news and feature films? Buzzfeed signals the future of media in the digital age.
...because chances are you know the company's long-running web-series "Red vs. Blue." Starting from humble origins as a couple of buddies making parody videos for gamers, Rooster Teeth has grown into one of the most successful web production companies in the world. In addition to its flagship show, the company hosts one of the most popular YouTube channels, licensing deals with Microsoft and Netflix, and its own web platform for distribution and merchandising. Rooster Teeth's crowdfunding campaign for its feature film also broke IndieGogo records, proving the founders still know how to engage fans and rely on their support.
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"Red vs. Blue" is the longest running web series to date, basically making it the "Simpsons of YouTube". The show layers humorous dialogue over screen capture footage from the popular "Halo" video game series. While using copyrighted material is often one of the few areas of censorship for web videos, Rooster Teeth actually used the source material to its advantage. Based on the early success of the show online, the company signed licensing and partnership agreements with both Bungie and Microsoft, the makers of the game. Not only did this allow Rooster Teeth to continue legally producing the show, it also paved the way for merchandise and tie-ins to the game. This has also enhanced the experience for crossover fans of both the show and the game. Future versions of "Halo" have even used ideas from the "Red vs. Blue" series, such as the Grifball mode.
Rooster Teeth came about after its founders inadvertently created an early viral video. When a gaming magazine included the viral hit on a compilation DVD, the company decided it needed its own platform to distribute and promote its material. Rooster Teeth has continued to use its website to promote and distribute all its subsequent shows, as well as offering a community forum and merchandise store. In addition to its licensing deals with Microsoft and successful YouTube channel, the company also has signed agreements with Netflix and Hulu for wider distribution. As with similarly successful digital media ventures, Rooster Teeth understands that its web content is simply one part of the overall media experience.
From its earliest stages, Rooster Teeth has always relied on its fans. Before crowdfunding even existed, the company used PayPal donations as an initial way to make a profit on "Red vs. Blue." By stumbling on to the new "pay however much you like our show" business model, the company also discovered that fans were essential. Rooster Teeth has continued to engage its community of users through online forums, live events and other promotional events. The website also allows the biggest fans to become sponsors, giving them ad-free content and insider status for any new releases. All this digital community building has literally paid dividends, as the company was able to raise over $2 million through an IndieGogo campaign to finance its first feature film, "Lazer Team."
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