Amazon goes for laughs with latest acquisition

October 27, 2014, 8:22 PM UTC
Photo courtsey: Andrew Harrer -- Bloomberg/Getty Images

Looking to boost its entertainment credentials, Amazon said Monday that it has purchased Rooftop Media, an online service that licenses the rights to thousands of hours of comedy audio and videos to various media outlets.

Terms of the deal are not being released, but Amazon will fold Rooftop Media’s 10 employees into Audible, the audiobooks service that Amazon bought six years ago for $300 million. The deal, which an Audible spokesman confirmed actually happened last month but was not announced until Monday, was first reported by Reuters.

Rooftop Media records audio and video of comedians in stand-up performances as well as sketch comedy shows and comedic short films, all of which are licensed to media and marketing companies either for live broadcast or to be made available on demand. In the past, Amazon (AMZN) has been among the service’s many media distribution partners, which have also included Apple (AAPL), Hulu, Pandora (P), Spotify, and Yahoo (YHOO).

Rooftop Media’s content has “been embraced by our millions of customers globally,” Audible CEO Donald Katz said in a statement. “With Rooftop’s rich comedic offerings and vast pool of comedy talent, we foresee an even more exciting selection of original spoken-word entertainment at Audible in the months and years to come,” Katz added.

Rooftop Media CEO Will Rogers told Reuters that joining Amazon and Audible would significantly increase his company’s audience.

“Like Rooftop, Audible is obsessed with producing incredible programming, and Audible’s commitment to expanding its content offerings on behalf of its customers represents a tremendous new audience for Rooftop talent as we work to create new content together over time,” Rogers said in a statement.

Audible is world’s largest provider of downloadable audiobooks, with more than 170,000 available titles.

The deal is the latest attempt by Amazon to expand its digital entertainment content and comes a couple of months after the company swooped in to buy video game streaming service Twitch for $1.1 billion after the latter’s deal with Google fell apart. Like Netflix, Amazon has also been stepping up its production of original media content including several television series and used it to market its tablets, smartphones, a set-top TV box and, now, the Fire TV Stick.

Amazon’s digital content efforts have not fully taken off as of yet, though, and the company’s third-quarter revenue came in under estimates last week, sending Amazon shares plunging. Amazon’s stock was up about 0.8% on Monday afternoon trading.