What do you get when you mix Formula One auto racing with competitive video gaming with flying robots? A spot on ESPN.
The International Drone Racing Association on Thursday announced it has signed a multiyear deal with ESPN to air drone racing across the network. Drone racing features a series of elaborate courses—like abandoned malls, NFL stadiums and subway tunnels—with miniature drones racing at speeds greater than 80 miles an hour and controlled from afar by pilots wearing “first-person view” goggles that show a live video feed from the drone’s “cockpit.”
The first IDRA race, which will send drones through Governors Island in New York City, will air live on ESPN3 on Aug. 5-7. Another race will be held in October. Both events will be followed by a on-hour TV special on ESPN.
“To go from a first-ever, U.S. national drone race to partnering with ESPN for international distribution in eight months is truly a sign of great things ahead,” Dr. Scot Refsland, Chairman of the IDRA, said in a news release.
Drone racing has been slowly rising in popularity, with IDRA claiming a presence in 35 countries. Another group, the Drone Racing League, announced in January that it raised $8 million in funding, including investment from Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’s venture-capital firm RSE Ventures. Other investors included Hearst Ventures, CAA Ventures and Muse lead singer Matthew Bellamy, according to a Jan. 21 SEC filing.
Shares of ESPN parent company Walt Disney Co. DIS, -0.85% are down 5.3% year to date while the S&P 500 is up 0.9% in that time frame.