Pilots take part in training laps at the final of the Drone Racing League / Allianz World Championship at Alexandra Palaceon on June 08, 2017 in London, England.
Adam Gray | Barcroft Media | Getty Images
Sports betting company DraftKings and the Drone Racing League announced an exclusive deal on Friday that will allow people to bet on drone racing. It should also help DraftKings appeal to a younger audience.
DRL is a first-person-view racing league in which drone pilots race devices through neon-lit tracks and compete for the prize money. DRL did not provide the amount it pays its competitors, but in a 2017 tournament the prize amount reached $ 100,000.
The two sides did not provide any financial terms for the deal.
People in Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee, and West Virginia can bet on drone races from their cell phones.
DRL was founded in 2015 and has piqued the interest of younger sports fans over the years. The plan is to wrap up season five and hold a "Level 14" race on Saturday, followed by its championship event, which has not yet been announced.
DRLs used in events are designed and built by DRL. Identical models are built for each race. Each drone is worth roughly $ 2,000 and can travel up to 90 miles per hour.
"DRL's exciting, innovative racing events are perfect for the bespoke betting offers we can create," said Ezra Kucharz, chief business officer of DraftKings, in a statement. "Our expertise in sports betting combined with the competition full of statistics from DRL will make this a fun and seamless opportunity to delight your enthusiastic audience alongside tech-savvy, adrenaline-loving sports fans."
DraftKings officials told CNBC that they had tested DRL's betting interest with their free popularity pools offered in November and were happy with the results. The company had to switch to non-traditional sports offers when the leagues closed last spring due to Covid-19.
By targeting DRL, DraftKings will have access to Generation Z consumers who are still struggling to get customers.
DRL uses the label "tech-setter" to define the audience and describes the 16- to 34-year-old age group as predominantly male and "deeply passionate about technology, science and games". This group is also considered a sports fanatic who doesn't follow traditional leagues or sports as closely as millennials.
According to DRL, this age group is similar to the current fan base.
"You are young, influential and tech-savvy," said DRL President Rachel Jacobson in an interview with CNBC on Friday. Jacobson added that the league will unlock the "next generation of betting fans" for DraftKings.
According to the Wasserman Media Group, DRL fans place a sports bet three times more often and are 90% more interested in sports betting than the average global sports fan.
The Drone League has media rights with NBC Sports and Sky Sports, both of which are owned by CNBC's parent company Comcast. It also has a streaming contract with Twitter to host its preflight shows. The league said its Thursday show had grown to 193,000 viewers, up from 75,000 viewers during the first show in December.
Jacobson said the company added eight new sponsorships in 2020, including sports drinks maker Bodyarmor and a technology deal with T-Mobile, including building a 5G drone for the league.