Tulsa entrepreneurs to launch Auction Network on TV, Web

OKLAHOMA CITY_In six weeks a group of Tulsa entrepreneurs will launch the Auction Network, the first Internet and television network to focus on the $257 billion auction sector. Within a year, they expect to oversee a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

"This is the first live, interactive, real-time global auction network," said Chief Executive Pam McKissick, the former president and chief operating officer of TV Guide Networks. Her young firm's promotional video casts Auction Network as a mixture of eBay and ESPN, one tapping a sector used by 70 million people annually.

"Ebay is more passive," she said. "This is like a sporting event."  Hosted by Tava Smiley, known for her General Hospital and E! channel appearances, the new network promises to turn viewers around the world into "virtual bidders" in auctions of everything from homes, horses and guitars to paintings, baseballs and Hollywood collectables.

"We will be a phenomenally profitable network," said McKissick, who led the formation of Auction Network with Dean Williams, chief executive of the Tulsa real estate auction firm Williams & Williams. "And we will incubate a second network, the Real Estate Network."  That will not be an arm for Williams & Williams, she added, but serve the wide, growing spectrum of real estate auction houses - of which Williams & Williams is the largest, selling more than 1,200 homes a month.

"We're perfectly positioned to be turning that into a network," she said. "But it won't be a pipeline for Williams & Williams."  A former director of creative services for Disney and chief operating officer for TV Guide (a post she now holds for Williams & Williams until Auction Network takes off), McKissick dreamed up the concept after realizing how entertaining auctions could be - a feeling shared by 97 percent of the people who attend them.

Phase one will start Oct. 28 with streaming video at www.AuctionNetwork.tv. It will then beta test several interactive auctions from London to Las Vegas to Los Angeles, video on demand and gaming content, all towards building cable and satellite TV platforms it hopes to launch early next year.

As the auctions gather viewers, McKissick expects to start creating its own branded shows. Once established, the firm also intends to buy a headquarters site outside the Williams & Williams offices, at which time McKissick expects the two firms to fully separate while Auction Network grows from five employees to 27 - in Tulsa.  "I love my heartland companies," she said. "I'm a big Tulsa company supporter. I will not move out of here."