The players were, of course, the story, but at this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend in Dallas, NBA Digital Senior VP/General Manager Bryan Perez was moving around with power forward-like intensity. Rather than cooping up in an executive luxury box, Perez was canvassing the new Cowboys Stadium with a slew of Flip cams, shooting the NBA’s best and attendant celebrities behind the scenes at the league’s star-studded event.
His enthusiasm was not lost on Michael Adamson, Turner Sports’ VP of new products. “Here, I’ve got a whole bunch of shots,” Perez told Adamson. “Hand me another camera.” Twenty minutes later, Perez was back in the press box, dropping off more tape. “I’ve got [rapper] T.I. and the Rev. Jesse Jackson; give me another camera.”
“I was blown away by that,” Adamson says. “He got his hands dirty.”
With that intensity, it makes sense that Adamson speaks of Perez in complimentary cager terms. “Bryan would be a very aggressive forward on a basketball team,” he says. “He could defi nitely play point guard and call the shots and run the offense, but when in doubt he could definitely push the paint.”
Perez came to the NBA in 2008 with a wealth of experience in executive management in the digital arena. He most recently served as CEO of Live Nation’s Global Digital division, where he was charged with overseeing the company’s FifthEstater: Bryan Perez Internet, wireless, ticketing, and IT strategies and operations. Prior to that, he worked for Live Nation’s predecessor Clear Channel, leading acquisition and development plans and growing the digital business.
But entertainment and sports were in Perez’s blood long before his time at those media companies. He began promoting concerts while at the University of Texas. After getting his M.B.A. from Stanford, he landed a job at Madison Square Garden as director of business development and then transferred to the team level, working for the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
But the lure of the hoops proved powerful for Perez, who grew up in Houston idolizing the Rockets and owns a piece of the court the team played on when it won two NBA titles in the 1990s. He now oversees the league’s vast digital partnership with Turner, which includes NBA.com, NBA TV and NBA Digital; the latter has launched more than 100 apps and streams up to 40 live games on its new LeaguePass Mobile program.
“This position is really a culmination of all my experiences,” Perez says. And his timing couldn’t be better: When it comes to content, the league has been bolstered in recent years by a slew of engaging young superstars and exciting playoff series.
“The NBA is really on an upswing,” Perez points out. “All over our metrics, all our platforms are up this year. It all works in concert, and we all support each other.”
In the digital space, Perez says he and his team (NBA Digital has a staff of 200 working in Turner’s Atlanta headquarters) are constantly learning and challenging themselves to keep up with the league’s tech-savvy consumers. A large number of NBA fans index as men between 18-34 and are early adopters of digital initiatives, which helps “keep us on our toes,” according to Perez.
“You have to be able to think like a fan,” he says. “Produce something that’s really the highest quality that you can have because you’ve got a really engaged user.”
While work takes up a considerable amount of his time, Perez spends most of his free hours with his family. He has three kids, and enjoys snowboarding and a glass of wine. He’s also an avid music fan. His iPod holds a ton of songs—appropriate enough for someone who makes his money in digital content. “I think I have 20,000 songs in my iTunes library,” he says.
And while he may be an aggressive power forward to his peers, Perez knows how to hand out praise, as any good team captain would. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have great jobs every step of the way,” he says, looking back over his career. “I’ve been a lucky guy to work in some great jobs with some really great people.”