We may not always like them, but sports commentators and analysts determine how we see sports. They're the voices we hear as things unfold. We can argue with them or listen to them carefully, but they're going to keep talking either way. Through their analysis, we come to understand the game better. After all, the best of them are absolute experts at the sports they're discussing. Some of them used to be great players.
All of that expertise doesn't come cheap. It can be a pretty penny, depending on the expert and the sport. Still, Americans have an insatiable desire for more sports, so there's plenty of money to go around. Still, some of the commentators on this list are making a pretty penny to talk about sports for a living. Here are the salaries of your 40 favorite sports TV analysts.
Kevin Harlan has made a name for himself on both TV and the radio. He broadcasts NFL and college basketball games on CBS, and he does NBA games on TNT. As if all of that didn't keep him busy enough, Kevin is also a radio broadcaster and has broadcast the last nine Super Bowls for Westwood One.
Although he's not one of the most high-profile broadcasters, his ubiquity has allowed him to garner a reasonably significant salary. He may not be earning the most money of the people on this list, but $400,000 is nothing at which to sneeze. You can buy yourself a pretty sweet life with that kind of money.
Before Jimmy Johnson was a football analyst, he won two Super Bowls as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. After his career as a coach came to an end, Jimmy joined the team at Fox NFL Sunday, analyzing the action on every Sunday of football all season long.
The Fox team is one of the best in the business, in part because they have a great mix of former players and former coaches, who have fundamentally different approaches and understandings of the game. Jimmy has made himself a crucial part of that lineup, and he's being paid well because of the value he brings.
Terry Bradshaw brings a kind of wildcat energy to Fox NFL Sunday that is totally unique. There's no doubt that when he was quarterbacking for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was an invaluable member of that team. He won four Super Bowls with the team and was twice named the MVP.
As an analyst, Terry brings a wild energy to the studio, even as he gives occasionally thoughtful analysis. He may come across like an old redneck, but he's paid handsomely to play that role. He's one of the more entertaining analysts on television, and that earns him a cool, crisp $1 million for every NFL season.
Taking a break from the world of football, Dan Shulman has made his career as a baseball and basketball commentator. For ESPN, he covers men's college basketball, and is a compelling voice during March Madness and throughout the season.
Dan can also be heard covering some regular-season baseball games, and he does post-season MLB coverage on ESPN Radio. Committed sports fans will recognize his voice wherever it pops up and know that it means that they're hearing someone who's both informed and passionate. That's why he makes the big bucks, and why ESPN keeps on renewing his contract time after time.
Troy Aikman had an incredible career as the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys throughout the 90s, but his career as a broadcaster has led to success as well. Through his time at Fox, he's managed to work his way up to the network's lead announcing crew and has held that job for more than a decade now.
Alongside Joe Buck, Troy has proven that he can give sharp commentary that comes from his own knowledge of the game. There are plenty of gifted athletes who aren't able to communicate their knowledge effectively. Thankfully for Troy Aikman's wallet, he's not one of them.
Cris Collinsworth is to NBC what Troy Aikman is to Fox. They're both experienced football players who use that expertise to analyze plays as they occur. Cris has also done work with NBC outside of the football arena, including work commentating on both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
As a commentator with NBC, he's generated quite a bit of controversy around his play calling, but none of that has hurt his paycheck. Sometimes, it pays to be the one stoking just a little bit of controversy, especially when you're just commentating on a sports game. Cris knows how to get paid, and he's been cashing in for decades.
Sports analysis is still a field that's overwhelmingly dominated by men, but that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of women doing everything they can to change that. One of those women, Rachel Nichols, is currently hosting The Jump on ESPN. The show's focus on basketball gives Rachel a chance to bring invaluable commentary that many of her male counterparts may miss.
Although she's not the highest-paid broadcaster on this list, Rachel is also working quite a bit more than most broadcasters. Hosting a daily show is no easy thing, and it requires working regular hours in a way that hosting a show that only airs on Sundays might not.
Chris Fowler is the kind of broadcaster who worked his way up at ESPN and is now one of their leading voices on college football, as well as sports like tennis and soccer. Although his work has taken him to many sports, Chris's bread and butter is undoubtedly football.
College football requires all of the same commentating skills that professional football does, and the games are often much crazier. Through his long career as a commentator, Chris has covered a number of these types of games and proven that he's worth every penny of the money that he earns.
Throughout his career, Jay Bilas has provided commentary on college basketball in a variety of forums. He's commentated on games for CBS and ESPN, and he's proved his extensive knowledge of the game throughout his career. Although many believe his bias towards Duke makes him a poor announcer, Bilas's ability to quickly draw up plays has made him a unique presence in the world of college basketball.
Whatever you think of him, he's got extensive knowledge into how the game is played. He can talk circles around almost everyone else on basketball, and his focus is on both the players and on the overall strategy of the game.
When your nickname is "the voice of basketball," you better be well-paid for the work you do. Thankfully, Marv Albert is. The broadcaster currently works at TNT broadcasting NBA games, but he's also done play-by-play for eight Super Bowls and NBA finals, as well as seven Stanley Cup Finals.
He's one of the most ubiquitous commentators in all of sports, and that because he knows what he's talking about. He's simply better at this than almost everyone else who does it. He's making roughly $2 million a year, and quite honestly, that number doesn't seem as high as it should be.
The life of an athlete who once competed in the Olympics can be strange. There are many different paths that they can take, but few former Olympians have found as much success as Johnny Weir. The former figure skater has become an expert commentator on the sport and has proven that he can speak about it in a way that most commentators wouldn't able to.
Because he used to figure skate professionally, Johnny can speak to all of the sport's technical elements, but he can also speak to its beauty and grace in a way that's necessary for the sport.
Kirk Herbstreit is another former college football player who decided to spend his career discussing the sport professionally. His career as a broadcaster has allowed him to provide thoughtful analysis about the game, and to travel across the country commentating on the ins and outs of college football.
Throughout his career, Kirk has proven that his work as a color commentator for ABC's Saturday night games is invaluable. That's what allowed him to leverage his skill as a broadcaster into a $2 million annual payday. He gets all that money for talking about a sport that he loves to talk about. What a life.
Before his career as a commentator, Grant Hill was a pretty remarkable basketball player. His time playing in the NBA ended in 2013, but in the years since then, he's proven that he can broadcast with people who have been doing it forever.
As a member of the NBA TV team, Grant has proven that his thoughtful analysis, along with a keen understanding of every phase of the game can only help. He may not have formal training, but knowing something about basketball isn't the worst place to start. He was a remarkable player, and he's proving to be just as good with a mic in front of him.
Although people in the U.S. don't think about it as often as the world does, soccer is one of the biggest sports across the globe. As a result, its commentators get paid incredibly well to dissect the game and discuss its wide array of talent. Gary Neville has been one of those voices in England since retiring from playing the game in 2011.
As a commentator for Sky Sports, Neville rakes in $2.5 million every year for his analysis of the various clubs all over the world. Throughout his career as a commentator, Gary has proved the value that they can add to soccer. He's one of the best analysts the sport has.
For years, Curt Menefee has been the anchor of Fox NFL Sunday show. He's the professional who reins everyone else in and throws to his experts to dissect the game and explain what's going right or wrong for each team.
It seems like an easy job. After all, all Curt has to do is ask the questions. His role is crucial, though, because he gives their conversations a structure and flow that doesn't feel forced. That's how you know he's an incredible broadcaster. He earns every cent of his $3 million pay-day, even though he doesn't have the history with football that his co-hosts do.
As the anchor of Sportscenter, Linda Cohn has become one of the most powerful women in the world of sports broadcasting. In that role, Linda is required to have a general knowledge of a wide array of sports and keep abreast of everything happening in all the major sports leagues.
It's a job that requires incredible breadth, and Linda has been performing it admirably for years. She's hosted more episodes of Sportscenter than anyone else, and it doesn't look like she's very interested in leaving, at least not soon. Given the size of her paycheck, why would she be?
Throughout her career, Suzy Kolber has fulfilled a wide variety of roles. Most frequently, she covers football for ESPN, either as a sideline reporter or as a host. No matter where she is, though, Suzy brings a comprehensive, in-depth perspective to everything she covers.
Although she did a brief stint with Fox, Suzy's been a part of ESPN for most of her career, and the network has allowed her to prove that she's one of the most knowledgable and hard-edged sports reporters out there. She works twice as hard as everyone else, and her paycheck reflects all of that hard work.
Chris Berman joined ESPN just a month after the company launched. Since then, he's become one of the most iconic commentators in all of sports, and his nickname, "Boomer," is legendary. Throughout his years with the network, he's touched almost every sport there is. He hosted Sunday NFL Countdown, called a number of MLB games, and the Stanley Cup Finals.
Chris is an iconic broadcaster not just because of the significant events he's been a part of, though. He's known because of his personality, and because he was an instrumental part of ESPN's early success as a network. He's earned every penny he's got.
Mike Tirico is about as all-purpose as a sports broadcaster can be. From 2006 to 2015, he was the play-by-play caller for Monday Night Football, but he's also proven adept as a host in other venues. He recently replaced Bob Costas as NBC's host for the Olympics, and he also replaced Dan Patrick's as their in-studio host for Sunday Night Football.
Mike has proven that he can handle whatever's thrown at him. He's a consummate professional who rarely makes mistakes, which is why he keeps getting better jobs. Hopefully, those jobs are also coming with raises, given how much he's now responsible for.
Since retiring from the NBA, Jalen Rose has found plenty of ways to earn a living. Today, Jalen makes that living by co-hosting Get Up!, a morning sports talk show from ESPN. That's another job that's harder than it might seem. Hosting a morning show requires waking up incredibly early, and it also means keeping abreast of the latest in every sport, not just basketball.
Being an incredibly player on the court doesn't necessarily translate to success in broadcasting. They're two different skill sets. Some people, like Jalen Rose, happen to have both, plus an incredible work ethic.
Scott Van Pelt is as knowledgable about sports as many of the people on this list, but he works the graveyard shift. During his time at ESPN, his most substantial roles have been working on Sportscenter, where he's now the sole anchor of the show's midnight edition.
That, of course, means that Scott works pretty insane hours, but he also gets the chance to recap all of the day's major stories and weave in his own commentary as well. Being a late-night anchor has its perks, and it doesn't seem like it hurt his salary to be working while most of us are asleep.
Howie Long has been retired from football for more than 25 years, but his career has prospered in the years since. He serves as an analyst on Fox, providing commentary around defenses especially, which makes sense given his experience in the league as a defensive end.
Outside of football, Howie has also had quite a bit of success as an actor. You don't often see football players make the transition to the big screen, but Howie managed to do just that. Still, his bread and butter is commentary, and that makes sense. He's one of the best there is at it.
Tony Romo is still reasonably new to color commentary, but he's incredibly good at it. He was notorious last season for predicting what plays various teams would run only seconds before they ran them successfully. For his work as a commentator, the former Cowboys quarterback is making a tidy $4 million a year.
That might not be quite what Romo made at the height of his career as a professional, but commentating is also a much less risky job. Besides, it's one that he's proving incredibly good at, and that may lead him to a rather long career off the field.
After a wildly successful career that left him with one championship ring and the single-season sack record, Michael Strahan has been busier off the field than he was when he was on it. Currently, Michael makes $4 million a year for his work on Fox Sports, which is only a part-time gig.
The rest of Michael's time is spent on Good Morning America, where he's earning additional money. The man keeps busy, and proved that he's as good at talking as he is at tackling people. That's a good thing because talking is typically a lot less dangerous.
Jim Nantz has been CBS's top play-by-play guy for 15 years for NFL games, and he's not showing signs of slowing down. On top of that role, he also does work for CBS covering golf. It's no wonder the man has an enormous pile of money and continues to earn more every year.
Jim Nantz's skill is in balancing thoughtful play-by-play that's smart and up to the minute with little inflections of his personality. He's always professional, but he's never cold or distant. He gets paid $5 million a year to maintain that careful balance, and he does so brilliantly.
Given how much work gets thrown Joe Buck's way, you might be able to argue that he's actually underpaid convincingly. He's the lead play-by-play announcer for Fox in both football and baseball, and he's called almost every World Series for the past 20 years.
He's reached the peak of his career as a play-by-play guy. He's a master at it, he's been doing it forever, and he does it well for two sports. When you consider that, it's just insane. He works harder than anyone else in his profession. That's why he makes $5 million, and why he should probably make more than that.
Throughout his career, Dan Patrick has made a name for himself in large part through his knowledge of sports. His radio show is one of the most popular sports shows on the planet, and he's proven that he has the skills to talk about pretty much anything within the world of sports.
Whether he's working for ESPN, NBC, or Sports Illustrated, Dan has always brought his absolute best to the discussions that he's involved in. He knows how to ask sharp, incisive questions, but he also has opinions of his own. That's what makes him an ideal sports show host.
During her time at ESPN, Michelle Beadle has proven that she's a versatile reporter and host. During her decade with the network (which also featured a brief stint at NBC), she's been a co-host on Get Up!, Sportsnation and Winner's Bracket. ESPN likes to hire versatile talent that it can use across its roster of shows, and Michelle affords them that flexibility.
Currently, she's concentrating her efforts with ESPN on coverage of the NBA, and it's clear that whatever she does next, they value her to the tune of $5 million a year. She's one of the highest-paid women in the profession, and rightfully so.
During his years in the NBA, Charles Barkley proved that he was one of the best players to ever play in the league. In retirement, he could have led a quiet life away from the spotlight, one that he was set up for by his years as one of the best players in the NBA.
Instead, Charles chose to return to basketball as an analyst, and he's been working with TNT for almost 20 years now. He's a sharp, thorough commentator who knows what it's like to be in the spotlight, and how to talk to basketball stars who are still in the prime of their on-court careers.
Mike Golic is another former NFL player who took his talents to the world of commentating, and he's one of the best at it. Since 2000, he's hosted a regular radio show for ESPN. First, that radio show was Mike & Mike, which he co-hosted with Mike Greenburg.
Just 10 days after that show ended, he started a new radio show called Golic and Wingo with Trey Wingo. Mike Golic is not big on taking breaks, and his willingness to work hard after he ended his NFL career has paid off to the tune of a $5 million salary
Skip Bayless has been talking or writing about sports for his whole career. Although he started in print journalism, he eventually transitioned into radio and finally TV. It's there that he made a name for himself, largely on ESPN as one of the hosts of First Take, where he often sparred with Stephen A. Smith.
Although he parted way with ESPN in 2016 for a contract on Fox, he's still getting into plenty of arguments. As it turns out, being incredibly argumentative can also be very lucrative if you know what you're talking about and know how to make jokes.
Colin Cowherd is part of a newer class of sports commentators that is unafraid of letting their personality shine through in everything that they do. During his time at ESPN, Colin worked as a radio and TV host, and he also spent some time writing books during those years as well.
When he left ESPN in 2015 for a contract at Fox, it was clear that Colin was becoming one of the most sought-after names in the NFL. His years at Fox have been hugely successful thus far, which explains why they're comfortable offering him such an exorbitant payday. When you have captivating talent, you'll pay quite a bit not to lose it.
There are only a few names on this list that American sports fans might not be familiar with, and Thierry Henry is one of them. He's also one of the few people on this list who's not currently working as a commentator. As you might have guessed, Theirry hales from the world of soccer. He played for a number of club teams, as well as at an international level with France, and racked up a remarkable career.
He served as a commentator for Sky Sports through 2018 but left the network at that time to pursue his career as a coach. Whether that was the right decision or not is an open question, especially considering how much he was paid for broadcasting.
Al Michaels delivered one of the most iconic broadcasting lines in all of sports history when he asked, "do you believe in miracles?" after the U.S. knocked off Russia in the semi-final match at the 1980 Winter Olympics. For that alone, he deserves $6 million.
That is far from Al Michaels's sole accomplishment, though. He's been a sports broadcaster for a long time, and through those years he's proven that there is no one better at play-by-play than he is. He's getting paid $6 million to do his job but given how good he is and how long he's been doing it, he should probably make more.
As a newspaperman, Michael Wilbon brings a little bit of class to his work at ESPN. As an analyst for the network, Michael has provided sharp commentary on a range of sports and has hosted Pardon the Interruption with Tony Kornheiser since 2001.
Michael has more experience covering sports than most professionals can ever hope to have. He's done the NBA, the Olympics, the NFL and the MLB. He seems to know almost everything there is to know about sports, and it's just a pleasure to hear him analyze and discuss them, as he has for almost 20 years now.
Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon have been co-hosting for almost two decades, and it's hard to say which of them has more experience in the world of sports. Tony's career has spanned decades, and it's involved everything from writing to TV, and even some work in radio and podcasting as well.
It's fantastic to find people who are so passionate about sports that they can't seem to find enough different ways to discuss them. Tony is one of those guys, and that's part of the reason he's such a pleasure to watch, read, and listen to. He gets paid handsomely to do all three.
Throughout his career, Mike Greenberg has typified an outspoken sports personality. He co-hosted a radio show with Mike Golic and has also worked for ESPN and ABC in a variety of other capacities.
Sports talk radio requires a few different talents. You have to know quite a bit about sports, of course, but you also have to be entertaining enough for people to want to listen to you every day. Mike strikes that balance perfectly, and consistently delivers a funny show that's still packed with insights. He makes it look easy, and he gets paid so much because it's not as easy as it seems.
Bob Costas might be the most famous man in sports. He's been covering the biggest sporting events in the world for what seems like forever, and he has a keen understanding of how the world of sports connects to everything else that's happening in society.
His commentary is valuable not just because he knows what he's talking about, but also because he zooms out and looks at the big picture surrounding sports. His career might have quieted down lately, but when he was at his peak, there was simply no one who could speak better about sports than Bob Costas.
Stephen A. Smith is one of the most singular and combative commentators in the history of sports broadcasting. As a host of First Take and a commentator in a number of other areas for ESPN, he's proven that he's worth every cent of the money that he's being paid.
Not only is Stephen an incredibly sharp commentator because of his expertise, but he's also wildly entertaining. It's true that he occasionally gets into trouble for some of the comments he makes, but he's not so much of a loose cannon that he's not worth the risk. He's too good at what he does for ESPN to lose him.
Jim Rome is the kind of broadcaster who knows how to make the most of his talents. Whether he's hosting a show on the radio or on TV, he's always following the money, and it seems like he's doing so quite successfully.
Jim isn't just the highest earner on this list; he's the highest earner by $20 million, which just speaks to how valuable CBS feels that he is. He's the kind of talent you want so badly you're willing to pay them any price. He's got a lot of sports knowledge, it's true, but he also knows how to negotiate his way to an enormous payday.