Drone-minded readers would likely think about the Drone Racing League as a sports company. But for the rest of the world, the company famous for putting on highly-produced drone races is being perceived largely as a sports company. And one of the best sports companies, at that.
Business media magazine Fast Company this month announced the winners of its prestigious annual list of the World’s 10 Most Innovative Sports Companies for 2022. And Drone Racing League is one of the 10 sports companies on the list.
The list is primarily made up of companies that seemingly advance more traditional sports. For example, Surfline is a wave forecasting and surf report service. Golftec brings state-of-the-art analytics to weekend duffers. Abbott designs glucose monitors designed for all sorts of athletes to help better gauge and maintain optimal glucose levels.
But perhaps refreshingly, Drone Racing League is a monumental addition to the Fast Company list in that it has effectively created a new sport, entirely. So why did Drone Racing League manage to make the cut among companies more aligned with traditional sports?
Fast Company spelled out a few reasons:
- Launch of its first 5G-enabled racing drone in partnership with T-Mobile: In August 2021, DRL announced the launch of its first-ever 5G DRL racing drone dubbed Magenta, which is one of the first racing drones in the world to have an embedded 5G module capable of live streaming video directly to the internet via T-Mobile’s 5G wireless network.
- Transforming DRL into the first aerial sport fans can bet on: DRL has gone to great lengths to bring drone racing to the masses, including by creating a unique partnership with Genius Sports and DraftKings in early 2021 to add sports betting in some states.
- Impressive growth: DRL claims its races reached 250 million households in over 140 markets worldwide across the 2021-2022 series, more than doubling its broadcast reach from the prior season. Its episodes air across a dozen sports networks including NBC, ESPN, Sky and Fox. And it’s not just TV. Its TikTok fanbase grew over 400% over the past year.
And that’s not all that DRL has done of note over the past year. At the end of 2021, a Drone Racing League mobile game launched for free on the iOS and Android app stores. And at the beginning of 2022, it hosted an epic, live race on the Las Vegas strip.
Additionally of note: DRL and the NBA are the only two leagues honored in Fast Company’s list of innovative sports companies.