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ESPN engages in drone racing with new rights deal

Sports broadcaster ESPN has agreed a global rights distribution deal with the International Drone Racing Association, a worldwide organisation for first-person-view drone racing.

ESPN will stream live coverage of the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships and US National Drone Racing Championship via its ESPN3 digital service. A one-hour special programme will also be broadcast on ESPN after each event.

The US National Drone Racing Championship will be the first of the two events to feature on ESPN, taking place from August 5-7 on Governors Island in New York, US.

The competitions will feature contestants flying small, multi-propeller aircraft at high speeds around a racecourse.

Pilots navigate the drones by watching a live video from a camera mounted to the front of the aircraft, delivered to goggles over their eyes. Spectators can also view this coverage directly via their own goggles, online or television.

Scot Refsland, chairman of the IDRA, said: “Because everyone can experience the thrill of racing as if they were sitting in the drone cockpit, the sport is skyrocketing. To go from a first ever, US national drone race to partnering with ESPN for international distribution in eight months is truly a sign of great things ahead.”