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Australian broadcaster Network Ten is pumping up its digital content chops taking a minority stake in independent sports opinion website The Roar.

The Roar, launched in 2007 by digital media start-up Conversant Media aided by a small amount of angel capital, now claims 140,000 monthly users.

Conversant Media CEO and founder Zac Zavos says the site averages 16,500 comments per month. The site features opinion pieces from leading sports commentators and is backed by 600,000 words of user contributions from sports tragics each week. “It’s the sports equivalent of a weekly War and Peace in terms of content output,” Zavos says.

Ten’s stake will allow it to use The Roar’s content to populate the online portal for ONE, its new digital sports channel. The Roar will get TV exposure for its brand, and will join onehd.com.au in early March.

If Ten’s play works, it will probably trigger a spate of copycat old-media-shopping-for-new-media deals (just as all Australia’s commercial TV broadcasters have a stake in voucher shopping sites).

Network Ten chief digital media officer Nick Spooner said, “the model of ONE has certainly demonstrated the effectiveness for advertisers in speaking to a targeted and highly engaged audience of sports lovers. With The Roar, the fans value the reactions and opinions, robust debate and deep analysis, while advertisers value the chance to engage directly with high quality user-generated content from a demonstrably committed audience.”

The investment from the broadcaster (which recently added media heavyweights Lachlan Mudoch and James Packer) to its ownerships ranks, follows the acquisition of group-buying site OurDeal and online dating site Oasis Active last year.

The Roar also offers an iPhone application and a daily email newsletter. It’s content is already syndicated for fansites Rugby.com.au and AllBlacks.com.

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