There are two types of sports commentators – analysts, or those who provide color commentary, and play-by-play announcers. Play-by-play announcers describe what is happening in a game as it happens; the “color guys” provide analysis of the game and events surrounding it. Many radio and television broadcasts include a play-by-play announcer and analyst for each sporting event. The salaries of sports commentators can vary widely depending on the type of job and how many people will view or listen to the broadcast.
Working as a sports commentator involves more than attending a game. Commentators prepare for a game by reading about players, compiling statistics and learning about the teams. It is the job of a commentator to provide information about a game and keep viewers or listeners hooked on the broadcast.
Some of the most famous sports commentators in the world work for sports television network ESPN. In turn these are some of the highest-paid announcers in the business. The company also offers vacation time and retirement packages in addition to an annual salary. Some commentators bring in six-figure salaries. In June 2010, the salary of ESPN broadcaster Erin Andrews was reported at $200,000 as she negotiated a new contract (reports say she was asking for $750,000), according to a story published by Opposing Views.
Radio and Television
The median hourly wage for radio and television announcers was $12.95 per hour in May 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The highest 10 percent of those surveyed made more than $36 per hour and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.45 per hour. This works out to an average of about $26,000 to $75,000 or more annually for radio and television broadcasters. This salary range is typical, sports broadcaster Jerry Massey told PayScale in a story about his work. He also said that the highest-paid sports commentators work in television.
Sports commentators can also work in other areas, such as public broadcasting. Most of these commentators work small, live events, such as high school football games or minor-league baseball games. The median hourly wage for these commentators in May 2008 was $13.18.