By Barry Janoff
February 8, 2017: Critics who might have seen the Drone Racing League as a fly-by-night venture could be re-evaluating their opinion with the DRL unveiling a multi-year, global partnership with insurance firm Allianz.
Under terms of the deal, German-based Allianz becomes title sponsor for DRL’s elite race circuit, now known as the Allianz World Championship series, which this year is scheduled to include six races.
Allianz will also support with multi-platform marketing, including a 2017 preview spot that launched to coincide with the Allianz deal, and "leverage its motor racing heritage to bring the 'sport of the future' to a rapidly growing worldwide audience."
Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed.
"This is an incredibly exciting day for the Drone Racing League and a huge leap forward for professional drone racing," Nicholas Horbaczewski, DRL CEO and founder, said in a statement. "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."
Although not aligned with DRL, the entertainment aspect of drones was seen by more then 117 million people when they were featured during the Super Bowl LI Pepsi Zero Sugar Halftime Show starring Lady Gaga.
Companies using drones on a trial basis include Amazon, UPS, DHL, Domino’s and ASDA Supermarkets.
The Drone Racing League launched in January 2016 as the first global pro drone racing organization.
DRL hosted five pro races in its inaugural season and said it had more than 30 million broadcast viewers — including ESPN and Sky Sports — and more than 43 million views of its digital content.
DRL said the upcoming season, beginning in June, would air in more than 75 countries, including ESPN/ESPN2 in North and South America, Sky Sports in Italy and the U.K. and Prosieben in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Additional broadcast and distribution partners will be unveiled before the season begins.
As part of the Allianz World Championship, DRL will host races each year at official Allianz venues, including Allianz-branded stadiums and corporate facilities. As 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.
The 2017 Allianz World Championship includes six pro DRL races among 16 top drone pilots, and will take place in six stunning venues across Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston, Munich and London. Pilots will race for branded teams, including a Bud Light team.
The Allianz World Championship will air as 12 hour-long episodes, covering a "winner-take-all competition for a six-figure salary" and the title of "World’s Greatest Drone Pilot" heading into the 2018 season.
"Drones are already an important part of our business so we’re excited to align with DRL as they reimagine what racing in the 21st century looks like."
According to Jean-Marc Pailhol, head of group market management & distribution for Alliance, "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.
"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," said Pailhol.
"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," said DRL’s Horbaczewski.
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