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Drone racing competitions to air for first time on ESPN3

Two drones race during the first World Drone Prix in Dubai in March.

Two drones race during the first World Drone Prix in Dubai in March.

(Kamran Jebreili / Associated Press)

The fledgling sport of drone racing is about to fly onto more screens.

The International Drone Racing Assn. has signed a multiyear international distribution deal with sports media giant ESPN, marking the first time the sport will be on major network television.

In drone racing, competitors maneuver small flying drones around a course and wear goggles that show the drone’s perspective of the track. At home, viewers will see a version of that perspective.

The 2016 National Drone Racing Championships, held in New York City in August, and the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships, set for Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii, in October, will be streamed live on ESPN3, the network’s online streaming service.

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After the live event, a one-hour documentary-style show about the competition will be aired on an ESPN network, said Charles Zablan, vice president of marketing at the association.

The organization, which is based in Berkeley and Los Angeles, generally shows races via livestream, with post-race footage available on YouTube.

“We look forward to providing drone racing fans a larger platform to access this exciting world,” Matthew Volk, ESPN director of programming and acquisitions, said in a statement.

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The group’s executives compared the atmosphere of drone racing with that of Formula One or NASCAR.

“The intensity is there,” Zablan said.

This will be the second year that a U.S. drone racing competition is held.

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