The Drone Racing League’s currently filming its second season of high-speed racing, and the same week it’s taping a race in London, the start-up announced it has raised $20 million after closing a Series B fund-raising round.
The news is latest in what’s been one of phenomenal business growth in the last year. In September, its first 10-episode season — the league packages the racing events in the same style as the World Series of Poker, with slickly edited stories — was picked up by ESPN. The current season, being filmed now, will debut on June 20 and can be seen on ESPN and ESPN in the United States.
“We’re incredibly proud to announce new partners and investors aligning with DRL to solidify drone racing as the sport of the future,” said Nicholas Horbaczewski, CEO and Founder of DRL, in a statement.
Here’s the official statement from the DRL:
DRL also announced today the close of a Series B investment round. The total financing was more than $20 million, led by Sky, Liberty Media Corporation (owner of Formula 1) and Lux Capital. In addition to Liberty Media Corporation, DRL added new investors Allianz (its global Title Sponsor of the race circuit) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Other existing partners that join Sky and Lux in the round include Hearst Ventures, RSE Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Courtside Ventures. DRL has also added CRCM Ventures, supporting DRL’s expansion into China. LionTree Advisors acted as a financial advisor for the company and Morrison Foerster was the company’s legal advisor.
“Over the past 18 months, we’ve committed to building a technology company that can capture the imagination of new sports fans around the world,” Horbaczewski said. “The support we have from some of the most respected brands and investors is helping us rapidly realize that vision.”
In February, the Manhattan-based DRL also announced it had sold a title sponsorship to Munich-based Allianz, the insurance multinational that’s sponsored other racing events — and also offers drone insurance, naturally.
This week, the DRL is holding the 2017 season championships at Alexandra Palace in London for the season finale, which airs on July 28 on ESPN.
Below’s a sign of how far one part of the technology — the actual racing drone — has come. The red-and-black drone is the Racer3 (without propellors) and the black and green one on the left is the drone used during the first season.
Also announced on Monday, the DRL’s deal with Amazon’s The Grand Tour, a business deal that sees Grand Tour branding throughout the race course.
…A global collaboration with the hit Amazon Prime Video series The Grand Tour as part of its 2017 Allianz World Championship Race in London. This includes a custom Grand Tour Finish Gate at the World Championship race at the iconic Alexandra Palace, a branded Grand Tour commentator booth for the special guest play-by-play announcers on-site at the race and the creation of digital content to leverage the cult brand following of The Grand Tour and the technical innovation and creativity of DRL.
On Sunday, a fiery Season 2 teaser was released, showing the new Racer3 — sort of the “Batmobile” of drones — in action. It’s racked up an impressive 2.5 million views inside a day:
DRL was started in 2015 and in 2016 held five races in its first season. The second season will see six races that will be broadcast on Sky Sports, ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, Disney XD, and OSN, in addition to ESPN and ESPN 2, globally.