Cinedigm said it reached an agreement to revive filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey network, which folded on cable at the end of last year.
The new El Rey will be a streaming service, with Cinedigm providing distribution through its network of distributors. Cinedigm said this marks the first time that a cable brand has pivoted completely from linear to streaming.
“El Rey has always been a network for the people -- a mainstream outlet where we discover diverse, independent voices. The fact that we can also now make our catalogue of kick-ass programming available for free to all gives me enormous joy,” Rodriguez said. "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 lineup of curated, inclusive and entertaining content. This is a huge win in every way, and I want to thank Cinedigm for putting fans first with this new alliance."
As part of their deal, Cinedigm will work with El Rey to partner with like-minded advertising brands on custom content and will distribute Rodriguez’s feature film Red 11 and the companion docuseries, Rebel Without A Crew: The Robert Rodriguez Film School, exclusively to all platforms.
Featured El Rey Network content includes Rodriguez’s conversations with creatives like John Carpenter and Quentin Tarantino in The Director's Chair; Rebel Without A Crew: The Series, in which filmmakers set out to make their first feature under Rodriguez’s guidance; a library of unscripted franchises including The Chuey Martinez Show and feature films that run the genre gamut from grindhouse to cult classic action to horror/sci-fi.
“What was once only available to those with expensive cable packages is now available through a variety of mediums. The partnership with El Rey allows the channel to broaden its digital footprint, as well as expand the access of its incredible programming to audiences worldwide,” said Erick Opeka, president & chief strategy officer at Cinedigm.
“We’re excited to be stepping in at this important moment alongside the passion, dedication and forward-thinking vision that Robert Rodriguez brings to the table. In addition, Cinedigm’s strong advertising partner relationships with blue-chip demand partners like Magnite (SpotX/Springserve), Comcast’s Freewheel, Verizon Media, Xandr, just to name a few, will allow the channel to generate substantial advertising revenue among a key demographic in the growing AVOD & FAST space,” he said.
The English-language El Rey Network, founded by Rodriguez and production company FactoryMade, launched in December 2013 as one of the first four minority-owned networks Comcast promised to launch in seeking government approval to acquire NBCUniversal in 2011. In some 40 million homes at its peak, according to published reports, El Rey was in 13 million households when it shut down linear network operations about two months after financial partner Univision pulled out of the channel.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting + Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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