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Authors & Publishers, Take Note: Amazon’s Rooftop Media Acquisition is About Platform, Not Content

amazon smartphoneReuters has an interesting scoop today about Amazon’s latest purchase, but I don’t think they have the whole story.

According to Reuters' sources (confirmed by Amazon), the 10-person media startup Rooftop Media has been bought by Amazon and will be rolled into Audible. The amount of the deal has not been disclosed, but Audible CEO Donald Katz reportedly said that "the company had been attracted by Rooftop’s content as well as its pool of comic talent".

Reuters is calling this a content deal:

Its content now becomes part of Audible, itself a fast-growing seller of online audiobooks, and vastly increases Rooftop’s audience, said Rooftop Chief Executive Officer Will Rogers.

I really doubt this was a content deal; I think Amazon wanted the tech.

For one thing, Amazon was already a client of Rooftop Media (something Reuters forgot to mention) so there was little reason to acquire the firm for the content. But more importantly, the fact that Amazon is throwing Rooftop Media into Audible suggests that there is more to it than simply content.

Amazon has a video platform, and it has an ebook platform, and it has an audiobook platform. Even though Audible and Kindle are closely interconnected now, they’re still separate platforms. And now Amazon is buying a new video platform – but not mixing it in with their existing video platform or leaving the new platform independent.

Instead Amazon is tossing Rooftop into Audible. That move doesn’t make a lot of sense – not if this is a content deal. But if this is a tech acquisition, or in other words Amazon wants Rooftop’s platform, then the deal starts to make sense.

I think the biggest clue is how Reuters described Rooftop Media:

Rooftop records comedians at clubs across the country and licenses the digital rights to thousands of hours of comedy, which is broadcast either live or later on demand.

I wonder if Amazon wants to get into recording authors at events?

That would be the most obvious use of the platform, but it’s not the only use. Amazon might also want to establish a self-pub video platform along the lines of ACX crossed with KDP crossed with Youtube where videomakers could distribute their content.

In any case, there’s more to this than simply a content deal. What’s your best guess as to how the combined Audible/Roooftop platform could be used?

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fjtorres October 27, 2014 um 10:28 pm

Why not indie bands? That would be a closer fit to comedians…
The same crews that record comedians at clubs can record indie bands, no?
Maybe do double duty: record audio tracks for Amazon music and video performances for Prime Video.

A KDP for music acts…

Nate Hoffelder October 27, 2014 um 10:35 pm

That would be an even better use than for authors, yes. It would enable Audible to serve double duty to distribute both video and music.

Ereading Dot Com October 28, 2014 um 4:12 am

The Audible brand name certainly lends itself to more than audiobooks. But I tend to think it might have a hard time breaking customer association with the brand as an audiobook site than anything else.

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