You could be forgiven for not having the slightest idea that drone racing even existed but since BSkyB’s investment last year, DRL has guided drone racing into the mainstream. With the new season starting in June, many fans will be eager to see the fast racing phenomenon returning to their screens but what can they expect to see this time around?
2016 was a big year for the sport; as well as creatively expanding their exposure through skillfully edited racing episodes, the media company/FPV Racing Organisation eventually signed a $1 million distribution deal with many TV stations around the world, including Sky and ESPN. The sport itself pits 12 of the best drone pilots in the world as they race their 120-mph machines around intricate courses in the most interesting places around the world. The pilots wear FPV (First person view) goggles which gives them a live feed to a camera attached to their respective drone, giving them a cockpit-like feel in a high speed racing element. Each drone is cleverly engineered and custom designed by DRL engineers to equal standards of speed, performance and endurance. A DRL race is score based and is a combination of completion time and checkpoints. The pilot’s face off one another in a number of heats and score when they pass checkpoints and by finishing the course by a certain time limit. The pilot with the most points at the end of the multiple heats win.
All these ingredients make for exciting, fast paced entertainment which has captured millions of fans worldwide. But in 2017, the sport is on the brink of either establishing itself as mainstream sport, or falling away into the background. In order to achieve the former, DRL have built a free-to-download simulator for fans to experience drone racing from the seat of your own home. The simulator features races from the 2016 season and allows players to battle it out against friends and other players around the world. Sounds fun? You can play it right here! After the inaugural season, many fans and pilots would’ve thought “how could I get involved with that?” Well it turns out that as well as setting up the simulator for the enjoyment of fans beating their friends, it was also in the intention to find a new pilot for the 2017 season. The DRL selected a crop of prospective new pilots and held tryouts in January to find the new pilot. The winner of the event received a $75,000 professional drone racing contract.
The DRL further brings the sport to the fans as they are to release a range of racing drones for people to buy around the Autumn this year. A deal was made by Toy State to produce a co-branded racing drone for Toy State’s line of racing drones, Nikho Air. You can expect to see high prices for these high flying, high speed gadgets but what a toy to have and show off to your mates. Oh and there’s the small matter of the new season that is set to stretch to broader horizons and end up in good ol’ blighty as the final event in the season at Alexandra Palace on June 13. 8 will be battling it out to become the ‘best in the world’ during the winner-take-all finale for the 2017 season.
DRL founder Nicholas Horbaczewski said;
“With a rapidly growing fan base in London and throughout the UK and the rest of Europe, we felt it was critical to find a venue and a partner locally for an iconic 2017 race. As an official event of London Tech Week, we have an incredible opportunity to deliver the sport of the future directly to one of the most creative and innovative tech communities in the world.”
With huge changes being brought into this season, it’s clear that the DRL aren’t resting on their laurels and are pushing to keep building their fan base and bringing the sport to the fans. It’s got huge potential, with it being so new and modern and been claimed to be next big thing in sport, the pressure to live up to expectations comes with the pressure to live up to expectations. The only problem I can foresee is, despite signing these broadcasting deals, the owners have stopped publishing their online episodes through their website and social media; sacrificing a huge potential market in young people, who arguably, would be the ideal target market for the sport. It’s a young sport, trying to make it through old media and I feel that could result in lower viewing figures. The previous accessibility to the sport is what gave the sport traction in drone circles and the wider public so it will be interesting to see if the sport can remain popular through a declining TV audience in the long-run.
Would you watch drone racing? Or do you think it’s not a spectator sport that will likely catch on? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @SpiceUKOnline , or in the comments section below!