Outside of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, there’s only one place to see the Hokies kick off the 2019 football season – the ACC Network (ACCN).

Scheduled for 4 p.m. on Aug. 31, Virginia Tech’s game against Boston College will be the university’s first event televised on the ACC Network, a cable and satellite channel dedicated to round-the-clock coverage of the Atlantic Coast Conference. It will mark a milestone years in the making in the Virginia Tech Athletic Department’s commitment to providing fans with top-notch coverage of the Hokies.

“This is a major investment and initiative for us and one that we believe is going to elevate our athletic program in many, many ways. The 24-7-365 ACC coverage will be tremendous for our fans and alumni; the increased visibility and recruiting will be an asset for all of our sports, including increased exposure for our women’s sports; the network will produce revenue for us; and it will provide many real life experiences for our over 70 students who help us run the network, and the university as a whole,” said Whit Babcock, Virginia Tech athletic director. “We’re unbelievably excited to see the fruition of this hard work very near on the horizon.”

The ACCN was revealed in 2016 as a joint effort between the conference and ESPN to create real-time television programming. Previously, ACC schools had focused on broadcasting games through ESPN’s website or the ESPN app.

Across the conference, 450 live events, including 40 football games, 150 men’s and women’s basketball games, and more than 200 Olympic sport competitions, will be exclusively featured on the network and the network’s digital platform, ACC Network Extra (ACCNE). Combined with taped events, the network should air more than 1,300 events in its first year, which will be complemented by news shows and original programming.

The game at Boston College is one of two Hokie football games and six total Virginia Tech fall athletic events already slated to air on the network.

Fall 2019 LIVE Virginia Tech events on ACC Network

Date                 Sport                            Opponent                      Time (ET)

Aug. 31             Football                         at Boston College            4 p.m.

Sept. 14            Football                         vs. Furman                      Noon

Sept. 27            Men's Soccer                vs. Boston College          1 p.m.

Sept. 29            Volleyball                       at Pitt                              4 p.m.

Oct. 6                Women's Soccer           vs. Duke                         2 p.m.

Oct. 13              Women's Soccer           at NC State                    5 p.m.

Hokies everywhere are encouraged to visit getaccn.com to check the channel’s availability with providers in their area and, like any desired channel, contact providers who have yet to agree to carry the ACCN.

The Virginia Tech Athletic Department has invested $10 million to make this a reality, which has included revamping both the equipment and infrastructure of the department’s video office, known as HokieVision. Two new control rooms were built on the bottom floor of the South End Zone, which will serve as an operations hub, and a studio added in the west side of Lane Stadium. Upgrades were also made to HokieVision’s existing control rooms in the Merryman Center.

An investment was also made in people. At scale, six new full-time hires will be added to the production team, which includes an engineering and operations staff of four. Eight full-time students and four graduation assistants will work in production on a regular basis, and it’s estimated that between 70 and 80 students will have opportunities to gain hands-on experience at some point during the school year.

Students working at computers in a control room.
Students played a key role in HokieVision's trial run in May. It's estimated the new network will provide dozens of experiential learning opportunities for students.

“It's great for them because they get real-world applicable experience to put on a resume and demo reel,” said Eric Fey, Virginia Tech’s senior director the ACC Network Operations. “They get great experience doing live sports production both digitally and on linear broadcasts for the ACCN and ESPN family of networks and get to work closely with us and ESPN personnel.”

Last spring, HokieVision had a test run at producing a real-time television broadcast when they aired the finale of a three-game baseball series against Boston College on ESPNU.

Combined, the athletic department’s investments will allow for the production of three live events at once, as well as the production of ACCNE shows and in-venue video boards at the same time. This fall, they plan to produce each regular season volleyball and men's and women's soccer home game not already scheduled for real-time broadcasts on ACC Network Extra, the ACCN's digital platform.

Written by Travis Williams