03/23/20: Strat-O-Matic looks to boost sim play



Monday March 23, 2020

As we continue to wade through the unchartered waters of COVID-19 and its impact on sports, already innovative businesses and beginning to adjust and create opportunity and engagement where it may not have previously existed, particularly in the social space where players, teams and leagues are creating direct connections with fans, and in the business world where leagues are offering up simulations of games. One opportunity that has come from Strat-O-Matic, the New York based simulation company. With now Opening Day postponed, Strat decided to use its detailed analytics to offer up to fans the simulation of the entire 2020 season, which it will start on Thursday and make available every day for fans to enjoy and engage with. Cynopsis asked Adam Richman, Board President of Strat-O-Matic Media, about the idea, the opportunity and the game business in challenging times.

Richman on the evolution of the company. We have a passionate devoted following but have continued to evolve to make our game more fun and engaged for lapsed players now coming back and wanting to play, and younger players who want a faster version. We have both of those and are expanding our digital offerings as well. We know the core audience loves all the detail and would never forget them, but our growth is with casual fans who we now service and grow with more than ever, not just for baseball but for other sports as well.

On the traditional gaming market: I think we have seen a boom in games in recent years as families look for more quality time. We are no different as we have multiple generations now playing both the board and online game and we have seen a spike in interest since we launched the 2020 game in February. We hope with one of the small things we can do with the crisis going on now is to give thousands of people a sense of normalcy through our game and baseball; it doesn’t replace watching a game by any means, but it is a fun alternative and also a great learning tool.

On the response to simulating the 2020 MLB season: Response has been tremendous. We have been flooded with requests to find out how to play and where to follow and also to follow along by creating your own teams. What has been great is that the requests are coming from non-traditional Strat players; young girls and boys who have learned about the game, current and former players, front office executives and media members who are itching to get a feel for baseball at a time of year where the sport is top of mind.

On adding media platforms to the promotion list: Yes for sure, we have had a slew of calls with not just large media platforms but from radio hosts, TV hosts and celebrities all wanting to be involved. We have also gotten calls from brands who want to tie into recreations, all of which we think shows the value of our brand and the love of baseball.

On what happens when MLB returns: Our technology allows us to play games or seasons accurately in a very short period of time. It is our hope that when MLB comes back we will wrap quickly and then let people keep playing their own versions which they have come to love. it is also a great tie to fantasy because our information is so detailed and accurate. We think this simulation will be great for baseball in general and we are elated to be able to help give all fans some positive fun in challenging times.


The International Olympics Committee is giving itself a month to make its decision on how to handle the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics as a result of the coronavirus. The IOC announced on Sunday that it will mull multiple scenarios for modifying “existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games,” but noted that “a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda.” Over the pat few days, multiple NRGs urged the IOC to postpone the event, noting that athletes were not able to prepare in addition to the cancellation of qualifiers. “These are extraordinary and unprecedented times, and we fully support the IOC’s decision to step up its scenario-planning for the Tokyo Olympics,” NBC Sports said in a statement Sunday, per Variety. “We are prepared to stand behind any decision made by the IOC, the Japanese government, and the world health officials with whom they are working regarding the Tokyo Olympics.”

Moving forward with plans to delay events due to the illness are the National Women’s Soccer League and Canadian Premier League. The NWSL season slated to kick off on April 18 and it now delayed indefinitely. The CPL, meanwhile, was set to start on April 11.

Rounding out this edition’s lineup of closures, The Scripps National Spelling Bee also won’t be held as scheduled this year. The event was set to be held on May 24, with Scripps citing state and federal recommendations against large gatherings as the reason for the scratch.

Meanwhile, the Big3 basketball league is looking to launch — under quarantine — a reality-show-style 3-on-3 tournament. Per Yahoo Sports, the preseason event would feature seven rounds of games, take place in Los Angeles and include 16 to 22 players who have tested negative for the coronavirus. Players would be under isolation in a large house with a basketball court, the report said, citing sources.

ESPN is teaming with WWE to carry encore presentations of historic WrestleMania events on ESPN and streaming via the ESPN App. The special content started yesterday and will continue over the next two Sundays with WrestleMania 32 running March 29 at 7p and WrestleMania 35 on April 5 at 3p. “This unique opportunity is a byproduct of the terrific working relationship we’ve enjoyed with WWE over the years and the unprecedented circumstances we all find ourselves in,” said Burke Magnus, executive vice president, programming, ESPN. “WrestleMania is one of the most popular global events in sports and entertainment and the spectacular content it provides will be a treat for fans.”

Starting today, NBC Sports serves up Hockey Week in America on NBCSN, presenting 12 hours of hockey programming from 3p-3a and each night focusing on a specific theme of recent hockey history. From Friday, March 27 – Sunday, March 29, NBCSN will showcase seven hours of themed hockey programming in primetime from 8p-3a. Theme’s include Game 7 overtime thrillers today, while Tuesday features notable playoff rivalry games, Wednesday brings NHL outdoor games, Thursday offers Stanley Cup Final clinching games, Friday spotlights Top Olympic moments. Saturday will see Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin playoff showdowns and Sunday showcases Game 7 overtime thrillers.

ESPN carries an encore presentation of the Academy-Award winning 30 for 30 documentary O.J.: Made in America across four nights in primetime from tomorrow through March 26. The film originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016, premiered on ABC/ESPN in June 2016, and won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards in February 2017.

CBS Sports Network re-airs 26 NCAA Tournament games and more than 100 hours of past Tournament coverage this week with the slate highlighting the 2019 Tournament, early-round games and then Sweet 16 (Thursday/Friday) and Elite 8 (Saturday/Sunday) games to coincide with those rounds as they would happen if the Tournament was taking place. The schedule for the following week will feature classic Final Four and National Championship games.

ESPN2 celebrates “National Puppy Day” today with six hours of dog-related programming in prime time beginning at 6p. Programming includes the AKC Agility Premier Cup, Dog Tales, 8 p.m. – ESPN Championship Pup, E:60 Pictures: Owen + Haatchi, a special dog edition of Always Late with Katie Nolan, and ESPN Great Outdoor Games Highlights. The programming was all part of the inaugural “ESPN Dog Day” held in August.

ESPNU, on the other hand, honors seniors across high school, men’s college basketball and women’s college basketball this week. Stating today, ESPNU presents 12 hours of games each day to celebrate the careers and performances of a number of student-athletes who made their mark on the sport throughout the season, but saw it end prematurely as a result of the cancellation of conference tournaments and NCAA Tournaments. Programming will spotlight several seniors across the sport, including Naismith Player of the Year Trophy finalists, Wooden Award winner (2019) and 2020 finalists, Basketball Hall of Fame’s five positional award finalists, conference players of the year, and first team all-conference athletes.

ESPN serves up the non-pay-per-view premier of the heavyweight rematch that saw WBC and Lineal Heavyweight champion Tyson “The Gypsy” King” Fury’s victory over Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder. Today will see ESPN air the four-fight special beginning at 8p which will be preceded by a special re-air presentation of Fury and Wilder’s disputed December 2018 draw at 7p.

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The NBA is leveraging its digital footprint and the voices of teams, players, coaches, doctors and others across the NBA family to launch “NBA Together” – a global community and social engagement campaign that aims to support, engage, educate and inspire youth, families and fans in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The program is centered on four pillars – Know the Facts, Acts of Caring, Expand Your Community and NBA Together Live – that will amplify the latest global health and safety information, share guidelines and resources, and keep people and communities socially connected through digital tools and virtual events as everyone copes with the impact of the pandemic. This week, the NBA launched its Coronavirus Information For NBA Fans webpage. During this time of social distancing, the NBA is encouraging fans to expand their communities through content, activities and virtual engagement in an effort to stay physically and mentally healthy and active, including the launch of Jr. NBA at Home, a new interactive content series for young people who are currently unable to play with their friends and teammates, but still want to be active, work on their game and connect with the NBA.


The IRONMAN Group will add the IRONMAN Virtual Racing Series to its portfolio, including the IRONMAN VR Pro Challenge that will debut on April 4 through Facebook Watch. Athletes will compete in the traditional age-group categories and for select virtual races, will have the opportunity to earn qualifying slots to the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand scheduled to take place on November 28 and 29, 2020. Virtual races will begin on Fridays starting April 3. During each weekend of competition, there will also be a Women’s and Men’s IRONMAN VR Pro Challenge. Two professional female athletes will compete on Saturday and two professional male athletes will compete on Sunday for prize money.


Traditional sports leagues continue to go virtual during competitive downtime, tapping into esports alternates to engage fans. Formula 1 announced the launch of a new F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, featuring a number of current F1 drivers. The virtual races will run in place of every postponed Grand Prix, starting this past weekend. Every subsequent race weekend will see the postponed real-world Formula 1 race replaced with a Virtual Grand Prix, with the initiative currently scheduled to run until May. The series uses the official F1 2019 PC video game, developed by Codemasters, and the first virtual GP on the Sakhir track will be a 50% length race with 28 laps. During non-race weekends, Formula 1 will also be hosting online exhibition races, where fans from around the world will be given the chance to go head-to-head with F1 drivers.

Meanwhile, INDYCAR is teaming with iRacing to stage six virtual race events featuring a lineup of current NTT INDYCAR Series drivers starting March 28. Each race will be streamed live on indycar.com while the current 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is suspended in addition YouTube and Facebook Live as well as iRacing’s Twitch channel. Each virtual race event, which will last approximately 90 minutes to two hours, will begin at 4p each Saturday through May 2. To enhance the fan experience, INDYCAR will conduct a 15-minute, pre-race virtual autograph.

Collegiate StarLeague announced that the CSL Grand Finals has been postponed until further notice. The decision comes as college campuses shut down as a result of the coronavirus. “Listening to our players’ feedback regarding the current situation and the importance of their voices as representatives of the collegiate esports community has led to this decision and action,” the company said in the announcement. “In the spirit of acting responsibly, providing fair and equitable competitive environments, and with an abundance of caution for our players and fans alike, we at CSL feel it is the proper action to take at this time.”

Friday sees the NBA 2K League host the first-ever “NBA 2KL Three for All Showdown,” an online 3-on-3 tournament featuring fan-organized teams, top female 2K players and social media influencers, all competing in the NBA 2K20 MyPark game mode for the chance to play against NBA 2K League teams and a share of a $25,000 prize pool. The first stage will feature 32 fan-organized teams competing against each other in distinct XBOX and PS4 brackets. The second stage of the tournament will take place starting March 31 and will feature NBA 2K League players (teams of three will represent their NBA 2K League teams), top female 2K players, social media influencers and the top performing teams from the fan?only stage, again competing against each other in distinct XBOX and PS4 brackets.


PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is foregoing his salary indefinitely during the coronavirus crisis, according to Golfweek, with the tour canceling or postponing all events through May 21. In addition, the site states that the executive team is also taking a 25 percent pay cut also indefinitely, and all other salaries at the Tour have been frozen at 2019 levels.

Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla tested positive for the coronavirus, the league announced. “As of now, in spite of the tests carried out, I don’t have any serious symptoms and I will remain in quarantine as the authorities in the health ministry indicate,” Bonilla said in a statement.

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