inclair Broadcast Group has hired a former executive of an esports and online poker company to oversee gaming operations as the TV broadcasting giant looks to move forward in the sports betting market, and increase its focus on esports.
One of the US largest broadcast station groups, Sinclair announced Tuesday that J.R. McCabe has joined the company as Chief Business Officer of D2C/gamification, a newly created position, Baltimore Business Journal reports. He will be responsible for launching media assets related to gaming as Sinclair looks to unlock new revenue streams related to its regional sports networks and maximize engagement with viewers.
Prior to joining Sinclair, McCabe was Chief Business Officer for a privately-held portfolio of gameplay and esports businesses, Poker Central & Estars Studios. There, he helped launch PokerGo, a 24/7 video subscription service that provides access to live poker tournaments and events as well as other related content.
Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said in a statement that McCabe has "excelled at staying ahead of consumer trends" and developing new live content ideas. “His skill at conceptualizing and launching new and innovative business models at the intersection of media, sports, and gaming will be an important component of Sinclair’s efforts to expand in a rapidly growing area," Ripley said. "We look forward to his leadership in driving Sinclair’s direct-to-consumer growth opportunities in the years ahead.”
Ripley has repeatedly said Sinclair will look to sports betting as a way to generate more revenue from its regional sports networks. Sinclair bought the networks from the Walt Disney Co. last year for $9.6 billion. After PASPA’s repeal by the U.S. Supreme Court, Ripley said it would "be the most impactful thing over the next decade."
Sinclair predicts the sports betting market will grow to $5 billion by 2025. Ripely said Sinclair sees opportunities for engagement with young viewers who are looking for more interactive experiences, advertising and in-game betting possibilities. The sports networks have struggled this year due to declines in ad revenue related to the loss of sports during Covid-19 lockdowns, but Ripley has remained bullish about them going forward.
McCabe said in a statement he looks forward to "the challenge" of "helping [Sinclair] monetize the myriad opportunities the company has to drive future growth.” "As a leader in the media space, with an unparalleled portfolio of assets, Sinclair’s strong content base and history of innovation and strategic thinking is the ideal match for my passion to build high-performing, high growth businesses in gaming," he said.
Prior to working at Poker Central & Estars Studios, McCabe led the video business for Time Inc. His experience also includes senior level positions with Meredith Corp., CBS Paramount and Universal Studios.