Drones have started to revolutionize how industrial workers inspect hard-to-reach areas and photographers capture sweeping landscapes, and on Thursday, Sep. 15, at 11 p.m., racing these lightweight remote-controlled quad copters will become the newest sport to appear on ESPN 2.
The Disney-owned station will televise prerecorded Drone Racing League events, where competitors race small aircraft at speeds up to 120 mph through obstacles set up in arenas, stadiums and subway tunnels.
The 10 episodes run an hour each, where six contestants armed with smart glasses and a remote controller vie for the top spot and a chance to race in the DRL World Championship on Nov. 20.
Viewers will get to see what the racers see through a video feed from the cockpit.
"Coverage of DRL lets us merge storytelling, technology, and competition into compelling weekly content that we believe will appeal to a growing audience," said Matthew Volk, ESPN's director of programming and acquisitions.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people have never heard of drone racing,” Horbaczewski said in an interview. “This is a great chance to put something out there so people can get familiar with it.”
The sports league has received $12 million in investments from backers that include Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. The drone industry is expected to reach $127 billion by 2020, and will be used for everything from bridge inspections to package delivery.
“We’re always exploring ways to acquire quality programming and be where fan interest is going over time,” Volk said, “and trying to be there at the start.”
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