Some believe drone racing is the next big thing in sports – or at least in racing competitions.
Count Allianz among them, as one of the world’s largest insurance companies has just signed a multi-year, global title sponsorship with a leading organization in the fledgling sport of drone racing, the Drone Racing League (DRL).
According to a Feb. 8 Forbes article, Allianz initially reached out to DRL after announcing that it was looking hard at its sponsorship inventory, which includes a $150 million contract with famed soccer club Bayern Munich. The company wanted to re-focus its efforts on digital, modern sports, and believed DRL to be a perfect fit.
As the title sponsor of DRL’s elite race circuit, Allianz will leverage its motor racing heritage to bring what DRL bills as the “Sport of the Future” to a rapidly growing worldwide audience. The deal was announced in New York on Feb. 8.
In 2017, the Allianz World Championship series will include six races to test piloting skill and the limits of FPV (First Person View) flight. The races will begin airing on premier broadcast channels in more than 75 countries in June 2017. Each DRL race features 16 of the world’s greatest drone pilots flying DRL’s custom designed racing drone at speeds above 90 MPH through one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional race courses in iconic venues around the world. The Allianz World Championship races are an elimination style competition that culminates in a world championship and the crowning of the World’s Greatest Drone Pilot.
“This is an incredibly exciting day for The Drone Racing League and a huge leap forward for professional drone racing,” said DRL CEO and Founder, Nicholas Horbaczewski. “To DRL, Allianz is bringing world-renowned brand credibility and a proud history of innovative sports partnerships, including an extensive tradition in auto racing, and an undeniable proof point that the sport of the future has arrived. The scale and long-term nature of the deal shows Allianz’s genuine commitment to advancing the sport and will accelerate the introduction of drone racing to audiences around the world.”
The Drone Racing League launched in January 2016 as the only global professional drone racing organization, hosting five professional races in its inaugural season. DRL’s first season reached millions of fans around the world, including more than 30 million broadcast viewers and more than 43 million views of its digital content. The title partnership with Allianz will help DRL to continue to reach new viewers and build an even larger global fan base as the company introduces new events, media and brand partners in its second season.
“The pursuit of innovation and calculated risk-taking are the reasons insurance was invented in the first place. Allianz is proud to be partnering with DRL, a true pioneer of today’s digital driven sports,” said Allianz SE Head of Group Market Management & Distribution Jean-Marc Pailhol. “Drones are already an important part of our business so we’re excited to align with DRL as they harness the latest technological advancements and reimagine what racing in the 21st century looks like.”
The consumer drone market was valued at $355.9 million in 2015 and is expected to reach $4.19 billion by 2024, according to a report by Grand View Research. The Teal Group, an aerospace and defense consulting company, estimates annual spending on aerial drones, including civilian and military applications, to reach $11.6 billion in 2023 from about $5 billion in annual spending [in 2016] with barely any significant spending on commercial use. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts that between 2015 and 2025, drones will create approximately 100,000 new jobs and generate around $82 billion in economic activity.
The Allianz/DRL partnership will focus on growing the global fan base across three key verticals:
• Title sponsorship of the race circuit: The “Allianz World Championship” will consist of six professional DRL races in the 2017 season. Races will push the skills of 16 of the world’s greatest drone pilots, and will take place in six stunning venues across Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston, Munich and London. As the title sponsor, Allianz will have the lockup logo displayed on the uniforms of DRL pilots, on the starting podiums and throughout the intricate, three-dimensional courses.
• Venues and new international markets: As part of the Allianz World Championship, DRL will host races each year at official Allianz venues, including Allianz branded stadiums and corporate facilities. The innovative courses at Allianz stadiums will highlight DRL’s proprietary technology, enabling six drones to race in close proximity through the most insane 3D courses ever created outside of a video game.
• Broadcast: The Allianz World Championship will air as 12 hour-long episodes, covering the winner-take-all competition for a six figure salary and the coveted title of “World’s Greatest Drone Pilot” heading into the 2018 season. The upcoming season will air in more than 75 countries on renowned broadcast channels, including ESPN/ESPN2 in North and South America, Sky Sports in Italy and the UK, and Prosieben in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Races will begin airing globally in June 2017, and DRL will introduce additional broadcast and distribution partners before the season begins.
DRL’s fleet of 350 identical, high-performance racing drones are custom designed and built in-house by a team of engineers and drone experts, equipping pilots to push the boundaries of First Person View (FPV) flight. Each drone is covered with more than 100 color-changing LEDs, allowing the audience to distinguish between the pilots as their drones race at speeds above 90 MPH. In 2017, pilots will race for branded teams, including a Bud Light team pilot who was selected from the first-ever DRL eSport competition on the DRL Simulator in New York City: https://thedroneracingleague.com/simulator/.
To follow all of the action in 2017, check in for updates at drl.io.
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About Allianz: Together with its customers and sales partners, Allianz is one of the strongest financial communities. More than 85 million private and corporate customers insured by Allianz rely on its knowledge, global reach, capital strength and solidity to help them make the most of financial opportunities and to avoid and safeguard themselves against risks. In 2015, around 142,000 employees in over 70 countries achieved total revenues of 125.2 billion euros and an operating profit of 10.7 billion euros. Benefits for our customers reached 107.4 billion euros.
ABOUT DRL: DRL is the premier drone racing circuit for elite FPV pilots around the world. A technology, sports and media company, DRL combines world-class media and proprietary technology to create thrilling drone racing content with mass appeal. In 2017 DRL is hosting a global series of six races, the Allianz World Championship, to be broadcast on ESPN, Sky Sports, Prosieben and other leading broadcast channels around the world. Founded by Nicholas Horbaczewski in 2015, DRL is a privately held company headquartered in NYC. For more information on the 2017 race season, visit www.drl.io.