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Drone racing set to take off

Drones are rapidly becoming ubiquitous. When they aren’t being used in covert operations, they’re usually featuring in an online retailer’s nightmarish vision of a futuristic distribution strategy. Or a middle age man garners suspicion by flying one over the houses in your neighborhoods.

More recently we are seeing drones make their way onto the new eSports scene. The main premise of the sport involves pilots designing and creating fast, agile and responsive craft which are maneuvered around a course as quickly as possible. The courses themselves are a thing of wonder – looking like futuristic cities and packing out stadiums in capital cities around the world.

Having only been around for a short period of time, drone racing is quickly gaining momentum. As a spectator sport – and for those watching the live stream –  drone racing is quickly starting to look and feel like a traditional broadcast event. The big eSports tournaments have analysts, advertising and sponsorship – with AIG, Ernst & Young and GoPro all partnering with the World Drone Racing Championships.  Spectators are now tuning in from the comfort of their own home following a lucrative deal with Sky last month to broadcast the Drone Racing League’s events. This is some feat given that the league was only created in 2015 and the sport itself has its origins in Australia only a year prior to that, in 2014.

While there are plenty of establishing shots of the course and players, drone racing allows pilots to receive live streamed video from a camera on the nose of the drone, through specialized virtual reality goggles. This gives the sport – and the spectators an extra vicarious thrill when they witness the breathtaking views from the drones flying around the stadiums. While regular sports rely on just a few camera angles to keep the audience on top of the action, drone racing (like F1) suddenly creates a sport with dozens of possible views from the cockpit.

Like all sports, not everybody will have access to live coverage due to conflicting time zones and general licensing restrictions. Catch up shows and post event highlight packages however can make the most of the various camera feeds to recreate the race from the most exciting angles. However, navigating the content available to editors is probably more difficult than navigating the courses.

Not only is there a bewildering array of main action and establishing shots available, there are also feeds from each of the drones to choose from. It’s only fitting that all of this incredible footage is captured and made available in HD. However, this only adds to the complexity of the storage, distribution and access task for the broadcaster requesting the content.

Another issue is the time and effort that drone racing is putting into developing its star players. In the beginning, drone racing was an underground battle between a dozen unknown players hidden in a pit or broom cupboard next to the course. To increase the excitement – and develop the brand, drone racing is developing its own heroes and villains. This supplementary content only creates more video for the editors.

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The likes of WWE rely on characters to reinforce the brand, develop the story and increase interactions with fans. These “behind the scenes” video insights allow audiences to feel more connected with competitors and increase brand loyalty. Ultimately it has a direct effect on the bottom line – the combination of great action and emotional engagement creates a fan base. A fan base that eventually enables the content owners to monetize their media.

Drone racing has the potential to create this kind of devoted fan base. However, this represents a challenge for the rights holders who will be looking for a return on their significant investment. Drone racing produces huge amounts of HD content. Distributing this amount of data to a global customer base of programme makers, eager to create localized versions of the action is a complex undertaking.  Few platforms are capable of managing, maintaining and distributing this amount of broadcast quality content through an easy to search web interface. Fortunately, Imagen specializes in making large volumes of sporting content available to broadcast customers around the world – so not only can the final broadcast package and main action footage be distributed to a global customer base, the supplementary feeds from individual drones as well as shots of the talent can all be accessed through a highly secure, branded website.

Drone racing is ready to take off – a truly exciting sport is born from technological innovation that is bound to push the limits of video production and distribution to keep a tech-savvy fan base engaged.

Imagen allows sports rights holders to fully realize the commercial value of their content and expand their markets – to deliver a vast library of legacy and near live content to a new audience in new territories.

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Imagen’s Global Distribution Network technology uses public cloud infrastructure and replicates media libraries to any number of strategically positioned PoPs around the globe. It enables broadcast quality files to be delivered from the closest PoP in the fastest time possible.

It’s a premium performance for premium sports content, allowing high value customers to search entire video libraries in seconds, playback proxies, create edits, run workflows and download high resolution content – all through a branded, highly secure web platform.

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