The Drone Racing League on Monday announced that it raised more than $20 million in a Series B funding round in another bet that drone racing could be the next popular e-sport.
The financing was led by Sky, Liberty Media Corporation (owner of Formula 1) and Lux Capital, joining existing partners including Hearst Ventures and Miami Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross’s venture-capital firm RSE Ventures, which participated in an $8 million round in 2016.
The two year-old Drone Racing League has made waves this year, having just concluded its first full season on ESPN2 in November and signed sponsorship deals with Bud Light and German insurer Allianz, which is the title sponsor of the Allianz World Championship series taking place on Tuesday at London’s Alexandra Palace.
DRL on Monday also announced a partnership with the Amazon Prime Video series “The Grand Tour.” Videos from the race will be released in August and September, ahead of “The Grand Tour” Season 2 later this year.
Never seen drone racing before? Here’s DRL’s promo video, showing what the drone races look like:
DRL isn’t the only racing league to capitalize on drone racing. Another league, the Aerial Sports League, has hosted entertainment events called “Drinks and Drones” in San Francisco, where the public can watch drone racers. A racing series called DR1 was the first drone race to stream on popular social gaming platform Twitch, which was sponsored by Mountain Dew. There are also offshoots of drone racing, including drone freestyle, and drone combat — where pilots fly custom-designed drones intended to knock their opponent’s out of the sky.
But it’s also still a fringe sport, and it’s unclear if it will really fly high. Even most of the top racers aren’t making enough money to do it full time, and the audience is still relatively limited, analysts say.
Want to get into drone racing yourself? Here’s my recommendation for getting started.
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