Drone Racing League Sets TV Pacts with MGM and ESPN

Joshua Terry

The world of competitive drone racing is coming to TV.

The New York-based Drone Racing League has set a content development pact with MGM Television and rights deals for its race events with ESPN, the U.K.’s Sky and Germany’s ProSieben. The company aims to rev up interest in competitive drone racing through TV exposure.

DRL said Wednesday it has closed another $12 million in financing led by RSE Ventures and Lux Capital. MGM has also invested directly in DRL as part of the deal to develop TV programs and other content tied to the racing events and pilots. Other DRL investors include CAA Ventures, Hearst Ventures and Strauss Zelnick.

The DRL’s events involve six pilots navigating specially built drones through elaborate race courses around the country that have included abandoned shopping malls, subway tunnels and NFL stadiums. DRL is looking to capitalize on the wave of investor interest in drone technology that has emerged in the past few years, although the commercial use of drones has raised safety concerns and the ire of law enforcement and aviation officials at times.

“The world of drone racing is so incredible on every level that we wanted to be at the forefront telling the stories of these individuals and their passion for racing to an audience that will absolutely be transfixed by this sport, and this is just the beginning,” said MGM Television and Digital Group president Mark Burnett, who will produce the DRL projects. “We at MGM are excited to both be creating and investing in the Drone Racing League.”

ESPN2 will carry 10 hourlong episodes of DRL contests. An “Intro to DRL” episode will air on Thursday, Sept 15, followed by the first race on Oct. 23.

“With their expertise and our industry leading technology, media production and development of the best competitive racing, we believe we can truly grow a global franchise around this futuristic, high-speed racing sport,” said DRL CEO and founder Nicholas Horbaczewski of the company’s partnerships.

 

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