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Amazon re-shingles Rooftop Media for laughs

The online retail giant is seeking opportunities beyond the warehouse, and the acquisition of the online comedy service underscores its goals.

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Rooftop Media's staffers don't follow the norm for headshots. Rooftop Media

Amazon has acquired online comedy service Rooftop Media, taking another small step toward competing with entertainment-focused rivals such as Netflix.

The online retail giant is purchasing Rooftop Media to advance its plans to step outside of e-commerce and tap other revenue streams. Amazon has already dabbled in the mobile -- bringing out the disappointing Fire Phone, as well as e-readers and tablets -- and is well known for Amazon Web Services. However, the Seattle, Wash.-based company also offers entertainment content through Amazon Instant Video and an app store.

San Francisco-based Rooftop Media specializes in producing comedy content for the Web and works toward "creating new revenue and career opportunities for performing artists," according to the startup's website. Rooftop Media records comedians at live events and then licenses the content for live broadcast or on-demand viewing. The company has deals with Apple, Pandora, Spotify, Yahoo and Rdio.

Amazon-owned audiobook service Audible will bring Rooftop Media into its fold, merging the content portfolios of both companies, Reuters reported Monday. Financial details were not disclosed.

Audible CEO Donald Katz told Reuters said Amazon was "attracted by Rooftop's content as well as its pool of comic talent."

Last week, Amazon reported weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings and the poor reception of the Fire Phone, which has cost the online retail giant $170 million in inventory and supplier expenses amid weak sales.

This story originally posted as "Amazon snaps up Rooftop Media to boost online entertainment services" on ZDNet.