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Drone Racing League Raises $20 Million From Sky, Liberty Media, WWE

Variety logo Variety 6/12/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Drone Racing League announced today the close of a Series B investment round of more than $20 million, led by U.K. satellite provider Sky, Liberty Media and Lux Capital.

The two-year-old New York startup, which is trying to establish remote-controlled lightweight aircraft races as a spectator sport, also brought in WWE and Allianz (its global title sponsor) as new investors in the round.

DRL also announced additional partners and sponsors including Swatch, Forto Coffee Shots and the U.S. Air Force. The league’s 2017 television broadcast season kicks off on June 20 on ESPN, and will be broadcast in more than 75 countries with broadcast partners including Sky Sports, ProSiebenSat.1, Disney XD and OSN.

Earlier this month Drone Racing League recently announced a partnership with Amazon Prime Video’s “The Grand Tour” as part of its 2017 Allianz World Championship Race in London, taking place on Tuesday, June 13. The deal includes a custom Grand Tour Finish Gate at the race at Alexandra Palace; a branded “Grand Tour” commentator booth for guest play-by-play announcers on-site; and the creation of digital content showcasing “Grand Tour” and DRL.

“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 addition to Liberty Media — which now owns Formula 1 — Sky, WWE and Allianz, other existing investors that participated in the latest round of funding in DRL include Hearst Ventures, RSE Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Courtside Ventures. DRL has also added as an investor CRCM Ventures, supporting its expansion into China. LionTree acted as financial adviser for the company and Morrison Foerster was the company’s legal adviser.

The DRL’s final race in the 2017 Allianz World Championship Season, will feature eight top pilots competing for the winner-take-all 2017 season finale — flying drones at speeds over 90 miles per hour.

Horbaczewski, a former exec with endurance-competition event producer Tough Mudder, founded privately held DRL in 2015. The league launched in January 2016 as the only global professional drone racing organization, hosting five professional races in its inaugural season. In 2017, DRL is hosting a global series of six races, the Allianz World Championship, to be broadcast on ESPN, Sky Sports, ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, Disney XD, OSN and other broadcast channels around the world.

Watch the DRL 2017 season teaser trailer:

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