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Volume 26 No. 144
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Drone Racing League Closes On $12M Financing Round, Gets 10 Episodes On ESPN

The Drone Racing League (DRL) yesterday said that it has secured another $12M in "financing led by RSE Ventures and Lux Capital," according to Joshua Terry of VARIETY. MGM has also "invested directly in DRL as part of the deal to develop TV programs and other content tied to the racing events and pilots." Other DRL investors "include CAA Ventures, Hearst Ventures and Strauss Zelnick." DRL is looking to "capitalize on the wave of investor interest in drone technology that has emerged in the past few years" (VARIETY.com, 9/14). 

ON YOUR MARKS: DRL yesterday also announced that it has "signed deals to broadcast a 10-episode season on ESPN and ESPN2, along with the European stations Sky Sports Mix and 7Sports." In N.Y., Daniel Victor noted the schedule "begins with an introduction to drone racing" tonight at 11:00pm ET on ESPN2. Competition will "begin on Oct. 23." ESPN2 will "broadcast episodes on Thursday and Saturday nights, and ESPN will show the final episodes, including the two-hour championship on Nov. 20." The races are "prerecorded, so viewers will see an edited mix of drone footage and set cameras during the races." Taking a cue from ESPN’s other "nonathletic programming, the series is expected to focus on turning the pilots into characters you can root for." DRL Founder & CEO Nick Horbaczewski said that cameras followed "several of the pilots to their homes, interviewing them about their lives and what brought them to the activity." MGM, with Mark Burnett as exec producer, will "create unscripted shows around the pilots and the technology behind the races" (NYTIMES.com, 9/14).