Money pouring into drone racing as first ESPN broadcast takes to the air

This weekend, 100 pilots will gather to race in front of the Manhattan skyline at speeds of more than 60 miles an hour. These pilots won’t be in the air, however—they will race drones in the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships.

And for the first time ever, they’ll race live on a national broadcast: ESPN3 will air the race on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern time—the first time America’s largest sports network will cover the sport. For drone racers, organizers and enthusiasts, Disney-owned DIS, +0.70% ESPN’s streaming broadcast is a breakthrough moment.

“ESPN legitimizes drone racing from a hobby level to a sport level,” said Sahand Barati, chief executive of Drone Sports Association, the racing league that is putting on the New York race this weekend.

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