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Disney's (DIS) ESPN to Broadcast Drone Racing in August

In an effort to boost its sports enterprise, ESPN, The Walt Disney Company DIS is looking beyond traditional games like cricket, football, hockey, tennis and golf. Recently, the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) announced that it had entered into a multi-year deal with ESPN to broadcast drone racing.

This will be the first ever broadcast of drone racing and will be aired in Aug 2016. The 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships will take place on Governors Island in New York City. Matthew Volk, director of programming and acquisitions for ESPN, said, “Drone racing is an opportunity to reach and connect with a growing and passionate audience.”

Disney will definitely benefit from the increasing popularity of the unconventional sport. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, sales of hobbyist as well as commercial drones will increase to 7 million in 2020 from 2.5 million in 2016.

Disney’s primary cash cow ESPN has been under considerable pressure for some time now. This is primarily because the Pay TV landscape continues to change owing to migration of subscribers to online TV. Falling subscriptions will have a telling effect on the network’s ad revenues.

In order to combat this, ESPN had earlier announced its decision to cover eSports along with various competitive games on its website and apps. Over the past few years, eSports competitions have gained immense popularity and formed a global industry worth $500 million. Per research firm SuperData, over 130 million people follow eSports tournaments across the globe. In 2014, ESPN covered the highly successful League of Legends championships recording 27 million viewers.

Disney carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and shares the space with the likes of Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. FOXA, Time Warner Inc. TWX and Comcast Corporation CMCSA.

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