ESPN signed a deal to bring drone racing — high-speed aerial competitions among remote-controlled flying robots — to its networks.
“Drone racing is currently seeing an unprecedented rise in popularity and is poised to become the next behemoth racing sport alongside NASCAR and Formula 1,” Disney’s network said in a blog post.
ESPN said Wednesday that it has signed a multi-year international deal with the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA), a global organization for first-person-view drone racing. Under the partnership ESPN 3 will live stream this year’s U.S. and worldwide National Drone Racing Championships.
Following both events, an ESPN network will televise one-hour specials recounting the championships.
“Drone racing gives anyone the ability to fly like a superhero,” said Dr. Scot Refsland, chairman of the IDRA.
In the sport, contestants fly drones — small, multi-propeller aircraft — at high speeds around a racecourse. Pilots watch live video from a camera mounted on the front of the aircraft delivered to goggles over their eyes, and viewers can also watch the “first-person view.”
It follows ESPN’s move earlier this year adding a corner of its website dedicated to competitive video-game coverage known as eSports.
The move is the latest by one of the biggest brands in televised sports to cater to a growing, rabid audience for gaming as spectator entertainment. Watching other people play video games has surged in popularity, with competitions selling out stadiums and live-streaming sites like Twitch generating greater traffic than TV-streamers like Hulu.