Sinclair Broadcast Hire Former eSports Exec J.R. McCabe

As the TV broadcasting giant looks to move ahead in the sports betting industry and expand its concentration on esports, Sinclair Broadcast Group has recruited a former executive of an esports and online poker firm to supervise gaming operations.

Sinclair, one of the largest US broadcast station companies, reported Tuesday that J.R. McCabe has joined the organisation as D2C / gamification Chief Business Officer, a newly created role, reports the Baltimore Business Journal. As Sinclair looks to unlock new revenue sources related to its regional sports networks and optimise interaction with audiences, he will be responsible for launching media assets related to gaming.

McCabe was Chief Business Officer for a privately owned portfolio of gameplay and esports firms, Poker Central & Estars Studios, prior to joining Sinclair. There, he helped to launch PokerGo, a video streaming service that offers access to live poker tournaments and events as well as other related content 24/7.

In a statement, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said that McCabe has “excelled in staying ahead of consumer trends” and exploring new concepts for live content. “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 previously said that Sinclair would look at sports betting as a way for its regional sports networks to raise more money. Last year, Sinclair purchased the networks for $9.6 billion from Walt Disney Co. Ripley said it will “be the most impactful thing for the next decade,” following PASPA ‘s repeal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sinclair expects that by 2025, the demand for sports betting will rise to $5 billion. Sinclair sees potential for interaction with young audiences searching for more immersive experiences, ads and possibilities for in-game betting, Ripely said. Due to drops in ad sales due to the loss of sports during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the sports networks suffered this year, but Ripley remained optimistic about them going forward.

McCabe said in a statement that 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.

McCabe headed the video business for Time Inc prior to working at Poker Central & Estars Studios. Senior level roles with Meredith Corp., CBS Paramount and Universal Studios are also included in his experience.