The consumer drone market is growing exponentially and it looks as though sports broadcaster ESPN has been taking notice. An announcement by the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) confirms that a deal has been struck which gives ESPN the rights to provide coverage of competitive UAV racing events.
Leveraging the exciting visuals offered by a first-person perspective from the drones themselves, ESPN is hoping to get ahead of the game in attracting this emerging audience.
Their first official broadcast will be from the three-day US National Drone Racing Championships in New York this August. Coverage of this race will be available to stream online through ESPN's subscription service and hour-long roundups will be featured at the end of each day on their TV channel.
This is exciting news for anyone looking to get into this up-and-coming sport, which is now commanding prize money of up to $1million (World Drone Prix in Dubai).
See the video below for the IDRA's announcement of their multi-year partnership with ESPN:
Drone racing: The New 'Extreme Sport'
FPV drone racing, where participants compete at breakneck speeds, controlling their craft using goggles connected to a camera mounted on the drone's body, has gained popularity through countless videos on YouTube and across the web.
Benefiting from an image similar to that of skateboarding and other so-called ‘extreme sports’ in their heyday, drone racing is attracting young audiences and pilots who can’t get enough of watching (and flying) these miniature crafts around tracks at speeds topping 60mph.
However, there’s still the issue of getting people to actually go out and attend the races themselves as opposed to getting their drone fix online. This is something that the big UAV racing organizations are looking to target.
With large-scale events being set up across the world, including the Drone Nationals in Hawaii (October 2016) and the aforementioned three-day New York event being covered by ESPN, organisers are hoping to make drone racing the next big spectator sport.
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You need a drone license when you are flying as a commercial drone pilot, ie when you are using your drone for work and money-making purposes. This means, in most cases, you will need to sit the FAA Part 107 test.
You do not need a drone license when you are flying as a hobby and for purely recreational purposes. However, you will need to operate by strict rules. There are plans to introduce the requirement for hobbyists to pass an online aeronautical knowledge and safety test.