Drone Racing Goes Mainstream With ESPN Deal


Drone racing is coming to TV this fall. The International Drone Racing League and ESPN have come to terms on a three-year deal.
(Photo : IDRA | YouTube)

ESPN has agreed to distribute live stream and edited broadcasts of drone races for at least three years through a new partnership with the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA).

The IDRA thinks drone racing is on pace to rival NASCAR and Formula 1 racing. And ESPN wants to give the nascent sport a chance to do so.

Drone racing is exactly what it sounds like. Relying on cameras mounted on their crafts, pilot guide their drones through obstacle course with the hopes of clocking finishing times faster than their competitors.

Drone racing’s first-person views offers people the ability to fly around like super heros, according IDRA Chairman Scot Refsland.

“Because everyone can experience the thrill of racing as if they were sitting in the drone cockpit, the sport is skyrocketing,” Refsland said. “To go from a first ever, US national drone race to partnering with ESPN for international distribution in eight months is truly a sign of great things ahead.”

ESPN will broadcast two drone racing events this year, the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships and the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships. The first event will take place Aug. 5 through 7 and then second one will be held in October.

The August event will take place on Governors Island, New York on the backdrop of lower Manhattan and lady liberty. And the Drone Worlds, which runs from Oct. 17 through 22, will be held in Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii where 2015 US National Champion Chad Nowak is daring pilots to challenge him.

“I haven’t been busting my butt, living without sleep for the last 6 months trying to push the limits of drone racing to pass up this opportunity. To every pilot or person that wants to play a part in the history of our sport, now’s your chance. Come meet your fellow pilots from around the world, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be good enough to kick my butt,” invites Nowak.

ESPN will live stream both events first on ESPN3 and will then broadcast edited versions of the competitions on one of its TV networks.

The road to the North American Cup, and eventually the Worlds, begins on April 16 with the first regional, which takes place in Mexico.

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