Cavalier Corner

April 2017

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30 ◆ CAVALIER CORNER BY JEFF WHITE F OR FANS, THERE ARE MORE opportunities now than ever to fol- low University of Virginia athletics. That's a direct result of the partner- ship between the Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN. Last July, the conference and ESPN an- nounced plans to launch the ACC Network which triggered a flurry of activity at UVA. The ACC Network, a dedicated televi- sion channel, won't be on the air until 2019. But since August, fans have enjoyed un- precedented coverage of ACC sports, with access to hundreds of exclusive live events broadcast on ACC Network Extra — a digi- tal channel accessed through ESPN3 on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. ESPN relies on schools to produce many ACC Network events, so all 15 member institutions must have broadcast facilities that meet ESPN's production requirements. For UVA, that's meant making significant upgrades to its broadcast video capabilities. UVA's video services unit was created in 2004. Two years later, it moved to John Paul Jones Arena and into a new office that housed two standard definition con- trol rooms to produce content for the vid- eoboards at JPJ, Klöckner Stadium and Davenport Field. Connectivity to the Turf Field for field hockey was added later. Virginia athletics administrators knew the day was coming when the control rooms would have to be upgraded to high defi- nition and the production capabilities ex- panded to increase the department's ability to cover multiple events. Before making a significant investment in technology, how- ever, UVA wanted to know the requirements of a conference network. "The upgrades represent a complete change in our video infrastructure," said Todd Goodale, Virginia's senior associate athletics director for external affairs. "It was important for us to have as much informa- tion as possible and make the right equip- ment decisions, because it needs to last for a decade, perhaps longer." Along with an increase in exposure, the ACC Network is expected to bring addi- tional revenue to its member institutions. It will take time, and investment on the part of each ACC school, before new revenue is realized. For assistance in the renovation project, UVA hired a broadcast and A/V consultant experienced in control room design and in- tegration. Late last year, the video services office in JPJ was modified to include three HD control rooms and a dedicated audio booth. All of UVA's athletics facilities are connected to the control room via fiber in order to produce ACC Network events. The control rooms were ready for the start of basketball season and have been used extensively ever since. As of April 2, Virginia has produced 36 games for ACC Network Extra including baseball, women's basketball, men's and women's lacrosse, and softball contests. Each of the Hoo Vi- sion productions for every home baseball, men's and women's basketball and men's and women's lacrosse game is produced from the control rooms. "One of our goals, and this extends across the conference, is for fans to not be able to tell the difference between an event pro- duced by the schools and one produced by ESPN," Goodale said. Virginia teams are featured prominently in the spring broadcast schedule for ACCNE. UVA's head baseball coach, Brian O'Connor, believes the ACC's partnership with ESPN will benefit conference members. "I was ecstatic when it was announced, because I think that certainly this is the trend of where everything is going in college ath- letics," O'Connor said. "I think the ACC Network is great for Virginia baseball. Our fans who aren't close enough to get to a ball game can follow our program very closely, and I also think it can make a huge impact on recruiting. I think the more that you're on television, the more [prospects] get a chance to see you and identify with your team." Virginia baseball fans will want to make sure they know how to access ACC Network Extra, as 14 of the Cavaliers' final 15 home games will be broadcast. The free service is available as long as you can access ESPN3 and/or the Watch ESPN App. That means if you have an ESPN subscription of some kind, you can watch games on your computer, tablet, or through such streaming services as XBox, Apple TV, Sling TV and Roku. (For more information, visit about). Moreover, AT&T DIRECTV set top boxes in Virginia will soon include ACC Net- work Extra programming as well. UVA fans will be able to watch more than games on the ACC Network. At JPJ, the space that previously housed the Cavalier Team Shop has been transformed into a full broadcast studio that's likely to be used more than 250 days a year. The cost of the upgrades — approximately $6 million — will be covered by future ACC revenue generated from the network. As a result of that investment, Goodale said, "More people will be exposed to Vir- ginia athletics than ever before. Through the ACC Network and our social media channels, we will deliver our programming to fans across multiple devices and plat- forms. They will be able to watch our sports programs and learn more about our student- athletes in the space that best suits them, and I think that's really positive." ◆ LIVE FROM JPJ, IT'S THE ACC NETWORK! One of three control rooms in John Paul Jones Arena.

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