Q. Hey, is the El Rey Channel closing? A friend told me that it won’t be on anymore next year because no one will carry it? Is that true? — Marcel, Laredo, Texas.
Marcel, the El Rey Network, which was founded by director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids), will close after the completion of its December 31 lineup. The last scheduled show is a 2 a.m. ET (January 1) episode (“Pet Semetery”) from the reality-themed Lucha Underground wrestling series. That seems appropriate considering that Mexican-based wrestling shows have been a fixture on the channel since its launch in 2013.
Rodriguez says he hopes to bring the channel back as a streaming-only service, but he has not offered any details.
The El Rey Network features English-speaking programming targeted to Hispanic Americans, such as The Director’s Chair, United Tacos of America, Vampiro Unleashed and iMaria. The channel also plays movies, usually action-oriented with an Hispanic theme such as Rodriguez’s Desperado.
El Rey is a victim of cord-cutting’s effect on the pay TV industry. Several top cable and satellite TV operators, such as DIRECTV and Charter, once carried El Rey, but they and others have dropped it to save money with subscription revenue declining. It also didn’t help that Univision last November dropped its minority stake in El Rey, leaving the channel with reduced funding, and without a powerful partner in carriage negotiations.
Despite Rodriguez’s acknowledgement earlier this month that El Rey will fold on December 31, the channel’s web site offers no indication that the end is near. There is even a notice urging viewers to call DIRECTV and U-verse and request that they put the channel back in their lineups.
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— Phillip Swann