Drone Racing League closes $20m investment from Formula One owner Liberty Media, Allianz, WWE and more

Lynsey Barber
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Drone Racing Event Held On New York City's Governors Island
Sky will broadcast the Drone Racing League in the UK (Source: Getty)

The world's first professional league for racing drones has landed backing from Liberty Media, the new owner of Formula One.

The media company owned by tycoon John Malone is among fresh investors to back the Drone Racing League (DRL), along with Sky and Lux Capital, to the tune of $20m (£16m) in a series B round of funding.

Read more: Ready for take off? MPs are probing the potential of commercial drones

Insurance giant Allianz, which had already partnered with DRL to sponsor the sport, is also investing in the New York-based startup, as is World Wrestling Entertainment and CRCM Ventures. They join Hearst Ventures, RSE Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Courtside Ventures.

“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. The support we have from some of the most respected brands and investors is helping us rapidly realise that vision," said chief executive and founder Nicholas Horbaczewski.

Amazon (Prime Video), Swatch, Forto Coffee Shots and the US Air Force have also been named as sponsors alongside Allianz.

Read more: Droning on: How drones are transforming marketing

The announcement comes ahead of the first drone race to be held in the UK. The last race of the Allianz Championship Season will take place at London's Alexandra Palace as part of London Tech Week this week.

DRL aims to make drone racing a mainstream spectator sport. Last season it reached more than 30m broadcast viewers and 45m online. It's broadcast on Sky in the UK and on ESPN, ProSieben, Disney and other channels around the world.

Drone pilots don goggles to give them a first-person view of the drone, which is then raced around a large track and obstacle course at speeds of up to 100 miles oer hour. Prize money up for grabs for racers stood at $250,000 last year.

WATCH: How drone racing works

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