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Drone Racing League Strikes $100M Deal with Blockchain Company Algorand

The DRL says its fans are 40-times more likely to engage with crypto social media, making this partnership a natural one.

The Drone Racing League (DRL) has inked a five-year partnership with blockchain technology company Algorand, with sources telling Boardroom that the deal is worth $100 million.

The pact between the two companies marks the largest partnership ever for the DRL, now in its sixth season. The league has plans to introduce crypto-powered ticketing, collectibles, fan transactions, and non-fungible tokens, all backed by the Algorand blockchain.

The league and Algorand will also have new hackathon events at DRL competitions where crypto developers, programmers, and coders can test their skills against each other.

Excel Sports Management assisted in securing the deal by first introducing two organizations.

“When you think about merging blockchain and drone racing, it is really a perfect marriage,” DRL president Rachel Jacobson told Boardroom in a phone interview. “When we were brought together we had amazing chemistry from the beginning. We’re really laser-focused on accelerating each other’s goals and successes. These are brilliant minds that are really focused on these immersive experiences.”

According to the DRL, their fans are 40 times more likely to engage with crypto social media than the general population.

“We are obsessive about knowing as much as we can about our fans and really gravitating toward companies that we know are going to be the right fit for what they care about, are passionate about, and have the right infrastructure,” Jacobson said.

Over the next five years, Algorand will have the title rights to the Drone Racing League World Championship circuit. The DRL will also develop a Digital Drone Racing series built into Algorand’s blockchain network. The companies will work together to showcase Algorand blockchain through DRL’s broadcast, social, and gaming platforms. 

“We felt like the DRL represented a way to tap into a new market of people that were interested but not necessarily actively engaged in the blockchain world,” said Steve Kokinos, CEO of Algorand. “One of the cool things about the DRL is that it has both an e-sports and in-person component…I think what we were excited to learn that a lot of their fan base is already interested in new technologies like Algorand.”

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The Drone Racing League will start its 2021-22 DRL World Championship season on Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. EST on NBCSN and Twitter. The DRL’s partnerships with the two platforms include 30 hours of primetime slots, including on Christmas Day and lead-ins to the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

Arenas where DRL pilots will race include the MLS club Minnesota United’s Allianz Field and the Memphis Grizzlies’ FedEx Forum. 

“We definitely look at this as a way to really change how people think about league sponsorships,” Kokinos said. “I think there’s huge potential here and it’ll be exciting to see how things shake out over the next few years.”