When you assign a spotlight (or IES light) to any geometry, it will point down with respect to its creation position. If you then rotate the geometry, it will follow its transformations. The area lights, on the other hand, will always emit light from the normals side.
Is there any alternative to rotating the geometry in Studio? I'm playing around (for fun) with a design for lighting a tennis court. It uses an idea of having an arc of LED panels (i.e. a directional light source) surrounding the courts and I would really hate having to adjust the direction of every panel individually each time I alter the model.