Director Robert Rodriguez is probably best known for movies like “El Mariachi,” the “Spy Kids” franchise and, most recently "Machete Kills." But later this year, the successful filmmaker is making a big move to the small screen, launching his very own television channel called the El Rey Network with the intent of attracting a modern, English-speaking Latino audience.
It’s a growing community that Rodriguez believes has been underserved by Hollywood and the broadcast networks.
Now more than 50 million strong, the Latino population is the fastest growing demographic in America. Last year alone, Hispanic audiences accounted for a quarter of all box office movie ticket sales nationwide — worth nearly $3 billion.
Rodriguez says it's a big opportunity to change the landscape of television in a big way. But with so many channels for viewers to choose from, content is key, and that’s where Rodriguez aims to carve out a niche.
"You really want authentic voices. So what this network will allow is for people who have that voice, who have that interest, who have that background can come and show truly authentic product that will resonate better with the audience because it’s coming from the right place," Rodriguez says.
But El Rey isn’t alone. On Friday, ABC and Univision are set to launch Fusion. It’s a 24-hour news and information channel that will broadcast exclusively in English. And then there’s nine-year-old Nuvo TV.
"Before us, no one had dedicated themselves to creating a destination for Latinos born in this country or came here at a very young age to see their stars, to see their stories told," says Michael Schwimmer, CEO of Nuvo. "Does the community deserve multiple networks that go after this audience in different ways? Absolutely. There’s room for TBS and there’s room for USA. There’s room for WE and there’s room for Lifetime. Why shouldn’t there be room for El Rey and Nuvo?"
Schwimmer says he’ll be one of El Rey’s direct competitors. The cable network reaches an estimated 32 million homes and boasts Jennifer Lopez as a creative partner, and he doesn’t seem fazed by the impending competition.
El Rey is planning a soft launch in December with the first scripted series based on Rodriguez’s 1996 cult classic “From Dusk Till Dawn” slated to start airing some time next spring.