×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Net Courts Viewers From Dusk ’Til Dawn

Network adds key partners, executive heft with Scott Sassa hire

The El Rey Network, the cable startup from Robert Rodriguez and John Fogelman’s FactoryMade Ventures, is speeding toward its soft launch in December, bolstered by a strategic partnership with Spanish-lingo giant Univision Communications.

Univision has made an equity investment in the English-lingo cabler that is aimed at young adult auds. Much of the programming will have appeal to Latinos, but the goal is to target a broader urban demographic with a mix of reality, scripted and animated skeins, movies, music and sports programming — including the colorful wrestlers of Mexico’s Lucha Libre league. Univision will handle the back-office operations, sales and distribution of the network.

The Univision partnership came on the heels of the news that former Hearst Entertainment exec Scott Sassa was signing on as vice chairman of El Rey, helping to steer day-to-day operations.

The veteran TV exec suddenly became available in March when he was forced to step down from his Hearst post after being entangled in an extortion scandal that came to the attention of Hearst’s higher-ups. Tabloid headlines or not, Sassa brings exec heft to the venture and raises its profi le in media circles. In pouncing on the opportunity to bring in Sassa, El Rey’s existing CEO Antoinette Zel shifted to CMO duties.

El Rey was born in early 2012 with the advantage of having secured a carriage commitment from Comcast Corp. — thanks to the cable giant’s pledge to distribute 10 independently owned networks within a few years of its NBCUniversal takeover. Still, the odds are stacked against an indie cabler gaining a foothold in a market dominated by the major showbiz congloms.

But Rodriguez and FactoryMade have been savvy about lining up partners that bring buzz and essential resources to the operation. El Rey will need all the support it can get, as the Latino TV marketplace is becoming highly competitive, in both languages. Jennifer Lopez has invested El Rey’s more established English-lingo rival NuvoTV. MundoFox, the nearly one-year-old startup network backed by Fox and Colombia’s RCN, is aiming for younger second-generation Latinos, albeit with Spanish-lingo programming, as does NBCUniversal’s Mun2. ABC News and Univision are also partnered in a news network, Fusion, aimed at Latino millennials, and set to bow later this year.

Among the fi rst fruits of the Univision deal for El Rey will be a TV series spinoff of “From Dusk Till Dawn,” the horror franchise from Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. In keeping with his reputation for prolific output, Rodriguez intends to write and direct the series. In addition, K/O Paper Products, the television and film shingle run by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, will produce an action-adventure drama for El Rey, with development starting at the end of June.

Both shows are being developed as part of the network’s co-financing pact with Reliance-backed television studio Georgeville Television and will be produced at Rodriguez’s 26-acre studio facility in Austin, Texas. Georgeville will co-produce scripted programming for El Rey in a $250 million deal announced in February. The three-year pact calls for the production of at least six skeins.

The fl urry of programming news and partnerships also lays good groundwork for the biggest hurdle El Rey still has to clear: securing additional distribution agreements with cable, satellite and telco distribs. Those conversations are under way, and will be greatly aided by the leverage that Univision brings to the negotiating table.

Younger Hispanic viewers are a hot target for U.S. programmers

MundoFox
Fox’s fledgling broadcast network plans a Spanish rendition of “The X Factor” next season.

Nuvo TV
Jennifer Lopez is an investor in the indie English-lingo cabler.

Mun2
Telemundo’s cable sibling has traction with docu-reality series featuring such celebs as Larry Hernandez and the late Jenni Rivera.

MTV’s Tr3s
Net will put a Latino spin on the Comedy Central Roast format with a special devoted to Mexican comedian Hector Suarez.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Actor Aron Eisenberg during the Creation

    'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' Actor Aron Eisenberg Dies at 50

    “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” actor Aron Eisenberg, who played Nog in the 1990s series, died Saturday. He was 50. His character Nog, who appeared for all seven seasons, was a member of the alien race Ferengi, and joined Starfleet after a recommendation from Captain Sisko. Eisenberg returned for a guest spot on “Star Trek: [...]

  • ALL RISE -- A drama that

    TV Review: 'All Rise' Starring Simone Missick

    Finding a new way to do a legal procedural is such a difficult prospect at this point that it would be hard to blame TV for giving up entirely and just going on autopilot. “All Rise,” however, both indulges the basics of the genre and finds some refreshing ways to twist them into slightly new, [...]

  • An Emmy statue stands outside the

    Expect High Heat and Traffic for Emmys Sunday

    If you work in TV, are a fan of TV, or are in fact a TV yourself, the 71st Primetime Emmys promise to be a treat. Television’s biggest awards show takes place in Los Angeles on Sunday night, with some of Hollywood’s brightest stars set to appear as the entertainment community honors the best of [...]

  • Roma Cinematography

    'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Roma' Win LMGI Awards for Motion Pictures

    Two major 2018 releases – actioner “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and critics’ darling “Roma” – were honored for film location work by the Location Managers Guild International at a ceremony this evening at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The 6th Annual LMGI Awards also recognized “Chernobyl” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” [...]

  • Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun

    Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun Rights

    Viacom has sealed a deal with Sony Pictures Television for the cable rights to “Seinfeld” starting in October 2021. The deal comes on the heels of a blockbuster new deal between Sony and Netflix for the streaming rights to the beloved NBC sitcom that also begins in 2021. “Seinfeld” reruns have been a staple of [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content