Byravee Iyer
Sep 25, 2014

Burnie Burns discusses the power of hyper-engaged fans

SPIKES ASIA - The energetic Burnie Burns, founder and creative director of Texas-based production studio Rooster Teeth shared his thoughts on the power of large audiences and building a two-way engagement channel.

Burnie Burns
Burnie Burns

Please see all of our Spikes Asia 2014 coverage here

While working for a technology company back in 2001, Burns produced a parody video on the Apple switch ads that grew organically and made its way around the country. “That’s a common story today,” he said. “But in 2001 it was like the mountains we were trying to climb fell down.” That’s how the idea of Rooster Teeth came about.

Today, it produces 51 different shows with fewer than 80 employees. It is the fourth most viewed channel on YouTube and sees 3 million podcast downloads a month. Rooster Teeth has 12.3 million subscribers and 3.2 billion views on YouTube.

  • The studio decided its first show would be modeled on the Microsoft game Halo, a strong recipe for success online. It received so much traffic the server it was using shut down.
  • At the time, the infrastructure to serve video didn’t exist, so Burns started looking at the way the audience was consuming content – how were they downloading and interacting with the show
  • After working all week on a show, Burns and team discovered that “First post” was the most common comment on the page. Rooster Teeth took a different approach and based its business model on the “Economy of First”, which played into everything the company did.
  • On the content front this meant offering content to subscribers and premium users first
  • Rooster Teeth also marketed its merchandise at various live events and conventions
  • To expand into Asia, it launched a show called RWBY, the soundtrack of which shot to number one on Japan’s iTunes and was also picked  up by Warner Brothers. In China, Rooster Teeth is in the process of developing a mobile game.
  • “It’s the hyper engagement of fans that really drives the process,” said Burns. Evidence of this is seen in Rooster Teeth’s newly launched crowdfunded movie project. Lazer Team raised $2.5 million within a month, making it the third most funded project. He urged the audience not to look at the $2.5 million number, and to focus on the 25,266 funders. “That’s the most important number. It is core to us and we’re growing this core.”

Campaign observation: We want to grow up and be Burnie Burns.


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