Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network cable channel to be rebooted to air with Cinedigm
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez took El Rey Network – once a linear cable TV channel – and reformatted the Latino-focused brand for the streaming age in partnership with Cinedigm.
Launched in 2013, El Rey Network at its peak reached over 40 million households with a range of scripted and unscripted programs in English aimed at Latin audiences and beyond. The cable channel closed its doors at the end of 2020.
In partnership with Cinedigm, El Rey Network will be relaunched as a streaming service available on platforms such as smart TVs, digital set-top boxes, media streaming devices and the web. Additionally, Cinedigm will work with El Rey to make deals with advertisers on personalized content. Cinedigm will also distribute Rodriguez’s feature film “Red 11” and associated docuseries, “Rebel Without A Crew: The Robert Rodriguez Film School”, exclusively on OTT platforms.
The launch date of the El Rey Network streaming channel has not yet been determined.
The companies have claimed that El Rey ‘s rebirth as an OTT channel marks the first time that a cable TV network has “completely” pivoted from linear to streaming. However, the G4 game show and NBCUniversal’s fandom network, after sleeping for almost six years, was relaunched this year by Comcast’s Spectacor sports division with G4 content across a range of platforms.
“El Rey has always been a network for the people – a mainstream outlet where we discover diverse and independent voices,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “It gives me great joy that we can now also make our catalog of stunning programs available to everyone free of charge. “
He added, “As audiences move deliberately to streaming, it was important for me to democratize our platform so that the masses have the opportunity to see themselves in our range of organized, inclusive and entertaining content. It’s a huge win by any means, and I want to thank Cinedigm for putting fans first with this new alliance.
Programming on El Rey Network is curated by Rodriguez (“From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Sin City”, “Spy Kids”, “Machete”) and his creative partners. Featured shows include Rodriguez’s “The Director’s Chair,” with interviews from creators like John Carpenter and Quentin Tarantino; “Rebel Without a Crew: The Series”, in which the filmmakers set out to direct their first feature film under the direction of Rodriguez; a library of unscripted franchises, including “The Chuey Martinez Show”; and feature films spanning genres such as the grindhouse, cult classic action, horror, and sci-fi.
“Red 11,” based on Rodriguez’s experiences at a medical research center to fund his feature debut, “El Mariachi,” premiered at SXSW. The film takes place in a dark and twisted world of forensic drug research where middle school kids turn lab rats to make a quick buck. Written, produced and directed by the filmmaker, “Red 11” was co-written with Rodriguez’s son Racer Max and subsequently starred in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival.
Cinedigm’s partnership with El Rey allows the channel to expand its digital footprint, as well as broaden access to its programming to the public, said Erick Opeka, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Cinedigm. “We are delighted to step in at this important moment alongside the passion, dedication and forward-thinking vision that Robert Rodriguez brings to the table,” said Opeka.
Cinedigm also boasts advertising partnerships with demand-side partners like Magnite (SpotX / Springserve), Comcast’s FreeWheel, Verizon Media and Xander. This will enable El Rey OT to generate ad revenue from targeted demographics in the growing sectors of ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) and ad-supported free television (FAST), Opeka said.
El Rey Network is jointly owned by Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures. At one point, Univision held a minority stake in the company; the Hispanic media giant sold its stake in El Rey in November 2020 to focus on Spanish-language programming.
“We look forward to working with Chris McGurk and his amazing team at Cinedigm to further engage audiences and align with smart marketing partners to create personalized and memorable content that breaks the clutter,” said FactoryMade Ventures CEO John Fogelman, in a statement.