The Drone Racing League has struck another partnership, this time with T-Mobile. The multiyear agreement includes an investment from the mobile telecom company into the DRL through T-Mobile’s Ventures Fund. Together, the two companies will create the first 5G racing drones that they hope will eventually be shifted into the sport.
“Innovation and groundbreaking technology development is part of the DNA at both DRL and T-Mobile, so we’re a natural fit,” said Mike Belcher, T-Mobile’s vice president of business development and partnerships. “Our goal is to build the 5G ecosystem, and our partnership with DRL is a big step forward for 5G drones that can deliver immersive new experiences to consumers.”
DRL president Rachel Jacobson previously worked with Belcher in her earlier role as senior vp of global partnerships for the NBA, and T-Mobile had already been in conversations with the Drone Racing League when she joined the Drone Racing League earlier this year. According to the league, data also supported its decision to partner with T-Mobile: DRL fans are 14 times more likely than the general U.S. population to be considered “tech-savvy,” and four times more likely to be interested in gaming. Now, nearly eight months after Jacobson took on the job, she’s closed the loop on partnering with T-Mobile.
T-Mobile will be featured in the 2021 DRL Allianz World Championship Season through advertisements and other brand elements. The mobile company also plans to create educational programming around 5G and drones for DRL Academy, the league’s STEM program. Both companies hope that the addition of T-Mobile’s 5G network will help drive fan engagement even higher.
“T-Mobile is setting us up to grow our sport, expand our fan base with their millions of customers, and completely reimagine sports entertainment,” Jacobson said. “5G is a considerably higher-bandwidth link that can offer exciting opportunities for our racing drones in the future—making them fly faster and farther, while streaming 3D race action to millions of fans in real time.”
The DRL has been on a roll since Jacobson came aboard in April, inking deals with sports drink company BodyArmor, apparel brand Champion, gaming furniture brand Respawn and even partnering with Genius Sports to assist in getting approved for legal gambling.
The DRL will continue its season on Wednesday, Dec. 16 on NBCSN, Twitter and Facebook at 7 p.m. Eastern.