First-person-view drone racing is maturing fast as a sport. Although it has only recently come into its own in warehouses and other underground venues, like the drones themselves, competitive drone racing is taking off quickly. FPV racing is already becoming a source of sponsorship deals, distinctive professional leagues, and championship races. And now, in a move that will cement its place as a proper spectator event, the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) has signed a multi-year deal with ESPN to air the National Drone Racing Championships, starting with this year’s event in New York.
That’s right. The next place drones will be invading is the Top Plays of the Week.
The news comes from a mutual press release between ESPN and the IDRA stating that “Drone racing is currently seeing an unprecedented rise in popularity and is poised to become the next behemoth racing sport alongside NASCAR and Formula 1.”
To kick off the multi-year deal, ESPN3 (the tres?) will live-broadcast the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships, which will take place on Governors Island, NYC, August 5th-7th. The event will “crown the coveted title of fastest drone pilot in the United States,” and is expected to have an “enjoyable summer festival atmosphere.” A one-hour recap of the event will also air on one of ESPN’s networks following the event.
What will really set drone racing apart from the other sports on ESPN however, aside from it being centered on RC drones, is the fact that, according to the press release, spectators will be able to enjoy the races from a first-person point of view on TV and online from the cameras mounted on the drones. This means that viewers will be able to see exactly what the drone pilots see as they compete for fastest pilot in the U.S., and hopefully crash in horrible fiery explosions sometimes—we can totally hope for that now in good conscience as nobody will get hurt in these races.
What do you think about FPV drone racing’s explosion in popularity and its coming to ESPN? Is this the wrong way to go for drone racing or is this the best way to legitimize it as a sport? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!