The partnership between the Atlantic Coast Conference Network and Virginia Tech hits the air Aug. 31 when Virginia Tech football plays Boston College at 4 p.m., and HokieVision students will have the opportunity to work in production.
“We feel great about the partnership,” said Samuel Jones, chief engineer for HokieVision. “This is a process that has been in the works for three to four years. Everyone from the leadership within our department –– to the leadership in the conference, to the leadership in ESPN –– has made this network a top priority. The end result will show.”
Virginia Tech hired Jones, a former HokieVision student, as one of six new hires to prepare for the ACC Network partnership. Virginia Tech also hired Eric Frey, another former HokieVision student, as the senior director for ACC Network operations.
According to Jones, Virginia Tech invested $10 million in preparation for this partnership, including new equipment, broadcast cabling, two new control rooms and new infrastructure for the HokieVision office.
The ACC Network will provide exclusive coverage of the Aug. 31 game, as well as five other Virginia Tech sporting events in fall 2019. The sports covered include football, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer.
The game against Boston College is the first game of Virginia Tech’s season, and the ACC Network will provide uninterrupted coverage. All other Virginia Tech games covered by the ACC Network will also be broadcast continuously.
HokieVision crew members will have the opportunity to work in production during the six games. According to VT News, 70 to 80 students will be able to work in rotation, with eight full-time students and four graduate assistants working consistently.
“We could not operate without students,” Jones said. “They fill about 70 to 80 percent of the crews for each show. We are in a unique position at Virginia Tech because we don’t have the urban areas that the tri-cities in North Carolina or Georgia Tech and Miami have. Those schools have a large local freelance market that they can crew from. It’s a high praise, and thanks to our students we are at the level we are.”
In addition, Virginia Tech added a new operations center in the south end zone of Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech Athletics used this hub back in May during a baseball game between Virginia Tech and Boston College in preparation for ACC Network coverage this fall. This new operations center eliminates the need for TV trucks to broadcast Virginia Tech sporting events.
“The linear show in May could not have gone better,” Jones said. “ESPN sent in one of their best directors to do the show and our students felt very comfortable in a high-stress environment. Many representatives from ESPN were on-site and we received only positive feedback from them. That game got me very excited looking forward.”
Aug. 22 is the official launch date for the ACC Network, a subscription network partnered with ESPN. As of now, Verizon Fios, DIRECTV, YouTube TV, Optimum, Layer3 TV, Hulu Live TV, Google Fiber, Suddenlink and PlayStation Vue will carry the ACC Network, according to Cord Cutters News. The ACC Network is covering the Georgia Tech at Clemson game Aug. 29 at 8 p.m., the first ACC game of the season.