Tech readies its version of ACC Network

26

Marty Gordon
NRVsports@ourvalley.org

Officials at Virginia Tech showed off their ACC Network production studios Monday afternoon during a tour for local media.

PHOTO BY MARTY GORDON
The ACC Network’s Virginia Tech control room of the new ESPN facility located on the Blacksburg campus.

The university has spent just under $10 million to setup control and production rooms in the south end of Lane Stadium.

Eric Frey is the senior director of the ACC Network Operations at Virginia Tech and is a Virginia Tech graduate with experience at the ESPN Southeastern Conference network at the University of Arkansas. He gave Monday’s tour and is excited about the Tech launch.

“Our primary focus is to give Virginia Tech Athletics as much exposure as possible and to get the stories of our student-athletes in front of as many eyes as we can,” Frey said.

The Network will stream 30 matches from Thompson Field and Carilion Clinic Court at Cassell Coliseum.

By the time it is officially underway, ACC schools will have spent over $100 million of their own money to produce programming and setup onsite studios. Compare that to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) where schools spent just $30 million.

The SEC Network has been up and running for almost two years, and both conferences are partnering with ESPN, which owns each network while profits will be spent between each conference and ESPN.

According to Pete Moris, associate athletic director at Virginia Tech, each school bought equipment necessary to produce multiple life events for the TV channel.

“That means more linear-capable control rooms, cameras and camera angles, better replay and, in general, producing a more sophisticated broadcast than the typical digital production,” he said.

Earlier this year, the VT Board of Visitors announced a $10 million investment that includes the control room.

“We will also change Lane Stadium’s most visible entrance on Beamer Way into a high-end studio that will provide game-day content across Virginia Tech’s digital extensions and in-venue video boards, in addition to the ACC’s linear channels and other ESPN platforms,” Moris said.

The Tech/ACC Network is also creating several new jobs and opportunity for media students.

A total of five full-time staff should be devoted to the network but, factoring in all the production assistants, full-time students and graduate assistants, that number could be anywhere from 50 to 80 people.

The SEC Network has recorded over 60 million subscribers with ESPN calling it the most successful cable launch in history. In year one, the return per school was just over $7 million.

This fall, Virginia Tech’s ACC Network crew will produce each regular-season volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer home games that are not already scheduled for linear broadcasts on ACC Network Extra, the ACCN’s digital platform. That means 28 total broadcasts produced from the new ACC Network control center from the south end zone of Lane Stadium this fall.

In total, Virginia Tech will produce approximately 100 ACCN broadcasts from the facility this year, the university said.

The ACC Network announced it will officially kick off its fall sports coverage on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. ET, when top-ranked and reigning NCAA women’s soccer champion Florida State hosts No. 16 Wisconsin at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Tech connection will include a Thursday night women’s soccer game from Blacksburg.

ACC Network will exclusively televise 89 field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball games in its debut year – representing a more than  90 percent increase in the number of ACC events available on an ESPN linear network over last year and the most live, national coverage of ACC fall sports ever.

The 89 regular season and tournament games on ACCN:

  • 30 women’s soccer games
  • 28 men’s soccer games
  • 19 volleyball games
  • 12 field hockey games

ACCN said that volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer will each have a dedicated night of live programming each week with volleyball airing on Wednesdays, women’s soccer Thursdays and men’s soccer on Fridays throughout the regular season, with additional matches on Sundays. ACC field hockey games will be showcased on Fridays and Sundays throughout the fall.
Familiar faces to ACC fans will be in the booth throughout the fall. ACCN’s lead announce teams for men’s and women’s soccer are Dalen Cuff with former Boston College All-American and U.S. National Team member Charlie Davies, and Jenn Hildreth alongside former Virginia All-American and U.S. Women’s National Team member Angela Hucles, respectively. Additionally, former Louisville standouts Jennifer Hoffman and Katie George will serve as analysts for volleyball games on ACCN, while Alex Perlman and Leah Secondo will call the action for every field hockey matchup on the network.
ACCN will televise the preliminary rounds and final of the ACC Field Hockey Championship, the quarterfinals and semifinals of the ACC Women’s Soccer Championship as well as the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals of the ACC Men’s Soccer Championship.
Technology and innovation will be at the forefront of ACCN’s coverage of men’s and women’s soccer as telecasts will feature ESPN’s exclusive “Keeper Cam” goal post camera system currently used on ESPN’s Major League Soccer productions, ACCN said.

The technology uses cameras mounted inside the goal posts at both the four-inch and two-and one-half feet heights to provide unique views of the area in front of the goal, as well as straight down the goal line. The ACC will be the first and only collegiate conference to deploy the camera system.

Carriage agreements are in place with the following video providers: DIRECTV, Google Fiber, Hulu Live TV, Optimum, PlayStation Vue, Suddenlink, Spectrum TV, TVision, Verizon Fios, members of the NCTC, NRTC, Vivicast and YouTube TV, among others. All ACCN games will also be available on the ESPN app to authenticated cable subscribers. Fans interested in learning more about ACCN can visit www.GetACCN.com, according the ACCN.