Drones are most associated with clandestine missions, Amazon deliveries and mutilated babies — in other words, not the makings of an exciting sport. But first-person-view drone racing is a fast-developing and immensely thrilling contest, and thanks to ESPN, a whole bunch of people are about to discover it.
ESPN and the International Drone Racing Association have inked a multi-year deal to broadcast the best of drone racing. The first instalment will be the US National Drone Racing Championships, to be hosted on Governor’s Island in New York at the beginning of August. ESPN will stream all three days live online, and wrap up the highlights into a one-hour TV spot.
It makes sense: in the space of a couple of years, drone racing has gone from a niche sport played in warehouses, to something that happens in Dubai stadiums with a $US250,000 prize. It’s also a sport that will transfer well to TV: pilots use a real-time feed from the drones to do the flying, and all that first-person action will make for great TV.