Comcast Nets Support Inaugural U.S. Sports Film Festival

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A trio of networks owned by Comcast will be front and center at the inaugural U.S. Sports Film Festival in Philadelphia this week.

The Oct. 23-26 event will showcase 23 films in a trio of theaters in the City of Brotherly love. Titles include documentaries like The Zen of Bobby V, chronicling the Major League and Japanese manager Bobby Valentine; Signature Series: Pete Sampras, the new film on the life and career of the tennis legend, which was produced by Magic Garden Productions for Tennis Channel; and Gunning For That #1 Spot, which chronicles top high school hoopers, including NBA rookies Michael Beasley and Kevin Love, as they compete at the legendary outdoor court in Manhattan’s Rucker Park.

Sports-themed theatricals like The Natural, Invincible, Miracle and The Rookie will also screen. A full schedule is available at www.ussportsfilmfestival.com

Meanwhile, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, regional news network CN8 and national sports service Versus all will have marketing elements, including signage, at the various USSFF events. Comcast Spectacor, which owns the NBA Sixers, the NHL Flyers and the minor league hockey Phantoms, is also involved with the festival.

USSFF’s opening night cocktail reception, held at the Loew’s Hotel before the first screening, is being sponsored by Versus, while Comcast SportsNet, the event’s overall presenting sponsor, will host the post-screening gala at that venue. The RSN will dock its blimp outside the hotel.

SportsNet also is affixed to the festival’s Audience Award. At every showing, festival-goers will be handed a paper ballot, replete with the network’s name and logo, to grade the film on various categories, en route to determining an overall festival winner.

For the past few weeks, the three networks have been running promos and on-air billboards to build awareness and sales for the event.

A Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia spokeswoman said the RSN and Versus are engaged in discussions with the films’ producers for possible airings on the services.

Both CN8 and Comcast SportsNet, through its Daily News Live and SportsNite shows, plan to cover USSFF events and will have exclusive access to bring festival talent, directors and producers to their air.

Season ticket-holders for the aforementioned Philly teams have been offered discounts for the sessions. Team members and personalities are expected to attend the events and/or after-screening panel sessions.

“Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia is excited to be the presenting sponsor of the United States Sports Film Festival,” said Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia President Stephanie Smith. “As the sports news leader in

Philadelphia, we have forged an emotional connection with our viewers over the past 11 years. The United States Sports Film Festival provides us the opportunity to expand that relationship and our brand into another venue.”

Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia officials are also expected to attend the parties, screenings and attendant panel sessions, but they have a conflict: They’ll be sending personnel to either Tampa Oct. 22 and 23, as part of its coverage of the hometown Philadelphia Phillies at the first two games of the 2008 World Series.

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