Comcast Corp. is doing its best to trumpet the fact that it's hosting ESPN's X Games this month — for the second year in a row — at its First Union Center arena in Philadelphia.
In late July, an X Games athlete attended a Philadelphia Charge women's pro soccer match to promote the extreme-sports competition, scheduled for August 15 through August 19.
On August 13, another X Games athlete is expected to promote the event at a Phillies Major League Baseball game, said CN8: The Comcast Network vice president and general manger Jon Gorchow.
During the X Games run, CN8 will air 13 hours of live programming from the First Union Center, including Sports Connection With Lou Tilley; the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. CN8 News; Let's Cook; and It's Your Call With Lynn Doyle. The episodes will include nods to the X Games, like outdoor grilling ideas on Let's Cook
or a discussion of teen culture on It's Your Call, Gorchow said.
To drive attendance, Comcast also plans an aggressive promotional run of "X Games moments" through cross-channel spots running on its systems from northern New Jersey down to Baltimore, Gorchow said.
Once sports fans are on-site, Comcast will promote its newer technologies, including high-definition television, as well as its new video game-themed diginet, G4.
Comcast Sports Net, which plans to launch a high-definition feed early next year, will manage the HD display at the X Games, according to Gorchow.
Gorchow said he was initially surprised at how family-oriented the X Games audience was. The events are free of charge to the public.
The upcoming competition is the last one that Philadelphia and Comcast are contractually set to host, although Gorchow noted that the MSO has had some discussions with ESPN about continuing the partnership in future years, perhaps in other Comcast markets.
Hosting the X Games is a team effort that affects all of the MSO's departments, said director of special projects Melissa Kennedy, who said she started work on this summer's games last December.
"It's an enormous undertaking," she said.
Kennedy said the effort is worth it when customers make the connection between enjoying the event and the Comcast brand.
Comcast has been no stranger to big events. Over the past several years, the MSO has also welcomed the Republican National Convention, the National Basketball Association All-Star Game and Weekend and a Bruce Springsteen concert to the First Union Center.
"In every case, we're appealing to a different audience," Gorchow said. "In aggregate, we're appealing to a very large audience."