What are the best jobs in sports broadcasting today?
If you could have any national sports broadcasting job in sports, what would it be? Do you want to be at the games and travel all over the country? Do you want to be a studio host with a more stable work schedule? Do you want to become extremely popular in one niche field or cover a wide range of all sports? Are ratings more important than content?
There are many different ways to value sports broadcasting jobs, but Athlon Sports has tried to rank the best national sports broadcasting jobs in the industry today.
1. Sunday Night Football (NBC)
Who: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Preceded by “Football Night in America” with Bob Costas and Dan Patrick, NBC is home to the best broadcast job in sports. The NFL is the biggest dog on the block and Sunday night is the biggest night in television viewing. Put them together and you get the best gig in sports broadcasting — both as a studio show and play-by-play booth.
2. PGA Tour on CBS
Who: Jim Nantz, Nick Faldo, David Feherty, Gary McCord, Peter Kostis
There are plenty more names who broadcast the PGA Tour for both CBS and others like ESPN. But CBS gets two of the four Majors — namely Sunday at The Masters — as well as more than a dozen other key tournaments. Doing play-by-play for one or two holes each year at Augusta alone makes this job one of the best in the business.
3. Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Who: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
“MNF” used to be the top job in the business. However, Sunday Night viewing has taken over and the inability of flex scheduling has taken the edge off of the final broadcast of any NFL weekend. It is still clearly one of the most highly sought after jobs in the business — just look at Gruden’s contract with ESPN.
4. ESPN’s College Gameday
Who: Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit
The best college football show in the business began as a small studio show in 1987 and has blossomed into the weekly traveling circus that it is today. There is no preview show for any sport that comes close to the pageantry, fan interaction, entertainment value and insightful commentary that "College Gameday" can deliver. And its why Corso (1987), Fowler (1990) and Herbstreit (1996) have been together for more than 15 years.
5. SEC Game of the Week (CBS)
Who: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Holly Rowe
The biggest sport in this country outside of the NFL is college football. And the best conference in college football is clearly the best in the nation. So when CBS plucks the best game each weekend for its 3:30 PM ET Saturday afternoon game, the entire nation tunes in. This is arguably the most high-profile non-NFL booth in sports.
6. NFL on FOX
Who: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
Generally speaking, the best non-primetime game in the NFC is reserved for FOX’s top broadcast trio. This normally involved the Dallas Cowboys. That said, even the second, third and fourth NFL on FOX games are elite broadcasting positions. Other greats like Thom Brennaman, Dick Stockton, Chris Myers and Gus Johnson are assigned to call lower-tier games.
7. NFL on CBS
Who: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Steve Tasker
This is identical to the NFL on FOX across the board with one possible exception. The NFC is loaded and FOX gets most of those games while the AFC is much weaker and CBS gets most of their games. The NFL TV ratings dwarf all other sports and even lower-tiered games from the weaker conference still pull huge audiences. Greg Gumbel, Marv Albert, Ian Eagle and Kevin Harlan join Nantz and Simms on CBS.
8. Saturday Night Football (ABC)
Who: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters
The second-biggest non-NFL booth would be the ABC Saturday Night Football team. This spot on the TV dial was largely ignored due to low ratings but ABC/ESPN jumped in with two feet as the college game continued to grow and has been home to one of the top college games each Saturday evening since 2006.
9. Fox Sports Radio
Who: Dan Patrick, Jay Mohr, JT The Brick, etc
The first non-TV entry on the list begins with the international sports radio network from FOX and Premiere Radio Network. With over 400 affiliates and simulcasts on satellite radio and DirecTV (owned by FOX), few radio teams put as many resources into their product. Founded in 2000, huge industry names like Dan Patrick, JT The Brick, Petros & Money as well as comedian Jay Mohr have built FSR into a media goliath with coveted broadcasting positions.
10. NCAA Tournament (CBS)
Who: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr
CBS purchased the NCAA Tournament in 1982 and has never relinquished control over the massive month-long ratings bonanza. And it’s why the great Jim Nantz has broadcast 23 straight Final Fours. The addition of extra channels from Turner Broadcasting System have only added to the viewership and profile of CBS’ March Madness.
11. ESPN Radio
Who: Mike Greenberg, Colin Cowherd, Scott Van Pelt
Launched back in 1992, ESPN realized the power of nationally syndicated sports talk radio quickly. Some of the industries biggest names have been discovered because of ESPN Radio — many of whom began on the TV screen. The list of powerhouse radio personalities that used the power of ESPN Radio to launch their careers is long and distinguished.
12. The Morning Drive (Golf Channel)
Who: Gary Williams, Damon Hack, Kelly Tilghman, Ahmad Rashad, Holly Sonders
Available in over 100 million households worldwide, anything on the Golf Channel has sneaky upside. Since launching in 1995, The NBC-owned Golf Channel has been home to a dedicated and extremely affluent audience. And the launch of the daily morning show has given this team of broadcasters an elite time slot. You've seen the women who work on this channel, right?
13. NASCAR on FOX
Who: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds
Debuting at Daytona in 2001 — may he rest in peace — the Emmy-award winning NASCAR on FOX has been a staple for race fans. Roughly the first half of each season is on FOX and their deep and talented team of broadcasters has made it one of the best in programs in sports. The play-by-play booth, the Hollywood Hotel and the Pit Reporters offer a variety of great broadcasting jobs.
14. CBS Sports Radio
Who: Doug Gottleib, Jim Rome, John Feinstein
Along with ESPN Radio and FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio offers 24/7 nationally syndicated sports talk. Think the money isn’t good in this field? Jim Rome’s radio show alone nets him $30 million in earnings each year. Simply because it launched just a few months ago (Sept. 2012), CBS Sports radio checks in slightly behind ESPN and FSR among the radio entities.
15. Baseball on FOX
Who: Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, Ken Rosenthal
This team traditionally only has to work one game per week (Saturdays) before the postseason starts. For broadcasting purists, baseball calls are the some of the sports world’s best as historic names have filled the airwaves with ageless memories (Vin Scully, Jack Buck). When October rolls around, there are few places broadcasters would rather be than in the booth during the World Series.
16. WGN-TV Cubs
Who: Len Kasper, Jim Deshaies, Keith Moreland
There aren’t many local or regional teams who get national broadcasts but the Cubs are one of them. Do you think walking to Wrigley Field to broadcast baseball games from the friendly confines 81 times per year sounds like fun?
17. SportsCenter (ESPN)
Who: John Anderson, Lindsay Czarniak, John Buccigross, Steve Levy, et al
This program has lost most of its luster as over-produced, sponsor-heavy broadcasts have diminished the product since its heyday in the late '90s. Still, many a sports broadcasting career has begun on the primetime (6 PM ET, 11 PM ET) slot of nightly sports highlights.
18. YES Network Yankees
Who: Michael Kay, Bob Lorenz, Ken Singleton
Much like the Cubs on WGN or to a much lesser extent the Braves on TBS, the Yankees broadcast nationally on the YES Network. With supporting programming and the world’s biggest TV market part of the package, calling Yankee games 162 times a year has to be considered one of the industry’s best gigs.
19. Inside the NBA (TNT)
Who: Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal
Few studio shows outweigh the actual in-game broadcast but TNT’s Emmy Award-winning pre- and post-game show is just that. Airing since 1988, Inside the NBA is one of the longest running studio programs in all of sports. I would rather watch this show than the game itself any day.
20. Pardon The Interruption
Who: Michael Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser
The time slot isn’t elite and it lasts for just 30 minutes but the format is brilliant and the show has staying power. For any broadcaster who is opinionated, passionate and likes to argue, few jobs would be more fun and offer more breadth of subjects than PTI.
21. NFL Total Access
Who: Rich Eisen, Fran Charles, Andrew Siciliano
When the NFL Network launched in 2003, it hired the face of the brand by luring Rich Eisen from ESPN. He hasn’t given up the lead anchor job on the channel’s flagship program because it has extreme staying power and stability is valued in this business. Powered by huge NFL dollars, the NFL Network has little chance of ever being kicked off the air.
22. NHL on NBC
Who: Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire
If this was a ranking of the best broadcasters in sports, Mike “Doc” Emrick might be No. 1. Since partnering with NBC, the NHL has been making a slow and steady return to American living rooms. This is the top broadcasting position for anyone in the hockey realm and its why Emrick is the voice fans hear nearly every night of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
23. NFL Countdown (ESPN)
Who: Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, et al
A long standard in the industry, NFL Countdown has been a big part of Sunday morning since 1985. It has seen better days but still claims seven Sports Emmys and five CableACE Awards. It’s such a great gig, stalwart broadcast personality Chris Berman may never quit.
24. SiriusXM Radio
Who: Tim Brando, Pat Kirwen, Chris Russo, Pete Pistone, Casey Stern, et al
It’s a late bloomer and it has taken time to grow (and one massive merger) but national satellite radio is here to stay. Huge signings like Tim Brando prove the medium is viable and offers fans niche programming for every major sport. If you are an MLB expert there is no better place to work than MLB Radio. If you are a college sports expert, there is no better place to work in radio than College Sports Nation.
25. MLB Tonight
Who: Brian Kenny, Matt Vasgersian, et al
MLB Network’s nightly program is one of the more unique broadcasts in all of sports. It acts as a pre- and post-game studio show as well as a “Live Look-in” show that gives viewers the chance to listen in on local broadcasts they may not normally get to hear.
Best of the Rest:
26. FOX NFL Sunday: Curt Menefee
27. The NFL Today (CBS): James Brown
27. ProFootballTalk (NBC): Erik Kuselias, Mike Florio
28. NFL Redzone (DirecTV): Andew Siciliano
29. NFL/College Football Live (ESPN): Trey Wingo, Rece Davis
30. Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN): Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Buster Olney