It used to be that if you wanted to watch TV, even as recently as the early 1990s, the Big Four networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox would have been all you’d get. And if you were looking for something in particular—food, music, movies—you’d be out of luck.
With the advent of cable and satellite television, Americans now have a smorgasbord of specialty networks to serve every niche market imaginable. But, a few years ago, if you were one of the 17 million-plus people in the United States that identify themselves as Asian American, the only places you could find yourself were through people like KevJumba, or the dime-a-dozen makeup tutorial girls on YouTube.
So in came the executives of Myx TV in 2007 to try to get Asian Americans off YouTube and Twitter, and instead put them on a screen bigger than 15 inches.
“We wanted to be the bullhorn for a community who gets underplayed,” says Keesa Ocampo, Corporate Affairs Officer for ABS-CBN International, Myx TV’s parent company.
From their modest-sized headquarters in Redwood City, they started the only way they knew how—culling prospects from the already Asian American saturated social media network.
“We’ve been doing this for two to three years now,” says Anthony Garcia, head of productions at Myx TV. “It all started with social media.”
Fast forward five years later, and Myx TV has crept its way into 10 million American households. Its newest deal in July with Time Warner Cable in the New York-New Jersey area secures Myx as the largest Asian American media market in the country.
“Myx TV has been dedicated to providing a voice and platform to the millions of Asian Americans around the country, says Miguel Santos, Associate General Manager for Myx TV. “So we are excited to finally be able to provide this entertainment to New York City and New Jersey.”
Myx TV’s music-request program Press Play will begin its second season this fall. In just a few episodes, the show has quickly become one of the premier showcases for young, up-and-coming Asian American independent music artists.
The premise of the show is simple: to showcase the best in independent music through an intimate, in-studio concert. Artists submit their music to the Myx TV website, and an online vote determines who headlines the show for the following week. The artist is then flown in, and gets his or her first big taste of the limelight. Think American Idol meets TRL meets MTV: Unplugged.
The difference is unlike the above shows, none of them have established a name for themselves, yet.
That’s where Myx TV comes in.
“Every artist needs a launch pad,” says Garcia. “It used to be that there were no distribution outlets for them; now there is one with Myx TV.”
And Myx TV’s launch pad has done pretty well for itself, springing fast-growing names into pop culture. Among the superstars that took off from Myx TV are American Idol finalist Jessica Sanchez, YouTube singer turned The Voice competitor JR Aquino, and The Next songstress Krystal Cruz.
“Where’d they come from? Myx TV supported them first,” says Nicki Sun, producer of Press Play. She’s no stranger to the Internet, being an accomplished blogger herself. She found her current day job through—wouldn’t you know it—social media. “We really work with them to shine the spotlight on them.”
Outside of music, Myx TV provides a myriad of other programming. Shows slated for this fall include Super Model Me, a runway model reality show and ”Myx Martial Arts: TKO, a program that tags along with mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters looking for their big break. And of course, a whole new market to enjoy it.
But thanks to new avenues of social media (and some deep networking), Myx TV has made strides to close that gap. Press Play culls almost their entire lineup from YouTube and the Internet, and bloggers and Twitterers are strewn across the Myx TV website.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to make our voice heard,” says Sun. “We’re not just putting a camera on a tripod and letting it roll. We care about having a high-quality product.”
And if viral sensations like Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and Asian American YouTube artists are any indications, Asian Americans are being seen and heard—and covered, and danced to.
“There’s always a period of finding oneself,” Santos says. “I think that Asian Americans make an impact, but we aim to be the media representative of the Asian American community.”
Check your local listings to find out if Myx TV is available in your area. Myx TV is also available at myx.tv. Anthony Garcia and Nicki Sun can be found on Twitter at @MrAnthonyGarcia and @nickisun, respectively.