A New York-based startup focused on drone racing has signed a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with cryptocurrency platform Algorand, a move that gives more visibility to both the sports-focused league. technology and the growing role of the crypto industry in sports marketing.
The deal, announced on Tuesday, is worth $ 100 million over the next five years, Drone Racing League officials confirmed to CBS MoneyWatch. As part of the deal, the league will release tickets to racing events, NFTs and other fan collectibles on Algorand. Algorand will have the naming rights to the drone league championship series, according to the agreement.
The drone racing deal “will introduce millions of tech enthusiasts to the possibilities that blockchain can bring to racing and sports as we know them today,” said Algorand CEO Steve Kokinos, in a press release.
Algorand’s marriage to drone racing marks the latest example of a showdown between the sports world and the creators of crypto. Canadian blockchain company Dapper Labs became the official digital collectibles marketplace for the NBA in 2019. Since then, the company has generated more than $ 200 million in sales, Forbes reported in February. The UFC Martial Arts League signed Crypto.com as the official NFT platform earlier this year for $ 175 million.
The Drone Racing League was started in 2015 by founder Nicholas Horbaczewski, a Harvard graduate and former film producer.
Drone racers follow a competitive structure at NASCAR where points are totaled at the end of a series of races and then an overall winner is crowned. Each drone is equipped with a different shade of neon color so that viewers can distinguish each racer. The races are broadcast live on Twitter and broadcast from arenas in St. Paul, Minnesota; Memphis, Tennessee and elsewhere. The league’s sixth season kicks off September 29.
In addition to Algorand, the Drone Racing League has other sponsorship deals with T-Mobile and the US Air Force. Earlier this year, the league announced DraftKings as its official sports betting platform.
The drone league also has significant financial support. He raised $ 20 million in a fundraising round in 2017 in which early investors WWE and Hearst participated. Touchdown Ventures took the lead in a $ 26 million round of funding in 2019. Miami Dolphins owner and real estate mogul Stephen Ross was another early investor in the racing league, which his CEO, attracts fans beyond traditional sports.
Drone racing is one of those competitions where “you don’t have to love stick and ball sports and you don’t need to fly drones” to fall in love with the sport, said Tuesday. League CEO Rachel Jacobson. Fans are connecting because they are fascinated by the elaborate routes the racers have to go through and they are starting to make a connection with the different drone pilots, she said.
The drone racing fan isn’t your typical grill or hoop fanatic, Jacobson told CBS MoneyWatch. The league draws its audience among an audience aged 16 to 34 who love technology, especially robotics and artificial intelligence, as well as games and devices, she said. Jacobson, a former NBA executive, said 70% of the drone racing audience doesn’t follow traditional stick and ball sports, and “they don’t care how many touchdown passes Tom Brady threw. “.