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Volume 22 No. 19
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Forty Under 40: Christopher Benyarko

Photo: nbae / steven freeman

Christopher Benyarko’s path to the NBA didn’t flow through an internship, wasn’t championed by an industry insider, or even influenced by any prior sports experience.

Instead, he took a most conventional road to the NBA by answering an ad on NBA.com. The tech-savvy Benyarko joined the league in 2004 after he had earned his master’s degree in engineering from Cornell and worked briefly in the pharmaceuticals industry.

Senior Vice President, Direct-to-Consumer, National Basketball Association

Age: 38

Born: Toronto

Education: Cornell University, B.S., electrical and computer engineering, and M.S., engineering, electrical and computer engineering

Family: Wife, Mea; daughter, Mea (3)

What gets you fired up? Challenges. I love a great challenge that requires problem solving and a good team effort.  
You wish you knew 10 years ago: It is more important to listen than it is to talk. 
Profession you’d most like to attempt: I would love to be a chef.
Something that your friends would consider “so you”: Start watching a science-based show/documentary when it’s already 30 minutes in.
Esports/video games you play: “NBA 2K,” “Assassin’s Creed” and MLB Baseball.
Gamer name: CB3000.
Cause supported: NBA Cares.
Person in the industry you’d most like to meet: Patrick Ewing.
We’d be surprised to know that … : I have a middle name, Quansah, that translated means “Wednesday,” the day I was born.

“I was a huge NBA fan, and I literally was on NBA.com and a co-worker said they had technical jobs, so I applied through the site,” Benyarko said.

What attracted Benyarko to the NBA was more than his love of basketball. It was the speed of the business compared to the pharmaceuticals industry, where product development projects can last up to a decade.

“Get an idea, build it, ship it and you can pivot and change it,” Benyarko said of the NBA business culture.

Benyarko has been on a building boom of late.

He plays a key role in expanding the offerings of NBA League Pass, the league’s live-game subscription package that allows fans to buy portions of live games at a reduced price. That follows previous rollouts of single-game, team pass and monthly offerings. Other content efforts are focused on NBA.com’s 21 global sites and the NBA App.

Under his leadership, NBA League Pass experienced record-breaking metrics with worldwide digital subscription up 64 percent for the 2017-18 season.

While Benyarko has been wildly successful in developing ways to make the NBA more accessible to fans worldwide, finding ways to attract and maintain viewers is a never-ending battle.

“The biggest challenge is to continue to find ways to have people interested in live and archived games and different versions of the games when there are so many other options people have to entertain themselves,” he said.