Eurosport eyes broadcast of drone racing

NOVELTY SPORT: A drone flies over the Statue of Liberty before the National Drone Racing Championship in August.


    Oct 05, 2016

    Eurosport eyes broadcast of drone racing


    EUROSPORT, Discovery Communications' European sports broadcaster, is in talks with potential partners to broadcast drone racing.

    It is the latest network looking to experiment with the fledgling sport in which contestants navigate small, remote-controlled aircraft at high speeds through aerial obstacle courses.

    Eurosport would join Disney's ESPN, British broadcaster Sky and Germany's ProSiebenSat.1 , all of which recently signed on to broadcast races by the 15-month-old Drone Racing League.

    On top of that, the league has partnered with MGM Television to develop a reality series about the pilots.

    "We think it's an area worth paying attention to and to test on audiences," said Peter Hutton, chief executive of Eurosport.

    Eurosport, a pan-European sports media group that Discovery bought last year, has 228 million subscribers in 93 countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

    While the network typically focuses on traditional sports like tennis and football, drone racing has "potential for sporting credibility", Mr Hutton said, declining to elaborate on discussions with drone leagues.

    It is by no means certain the novel sport will be a money-maker for TV networks.

    ESPN has not paid for the rights to broadcast drone races, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

    Instead, the network is sharing ad revenue with the leagues, the sources said.

    Such agreements align the interest of the network with the leagues, said Nicholas Horbaczewski, chief executive and founder of the Drone Racing League, based in New York City.