The 7 Highest-Paid Broadcasters in Sports

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVJuly 9, 2022

The 7 Highest-Paid Broadcasters in Sports

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 18: Tony Romo attends the 2022 Paramount Upfront at 666 Madison Avenue on May 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)
    Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic

    When you flip on a professional sporting event, the players and coaches aren't always the only people making millions of dollars.

    Along with the Super Bowl—which rotates across a few networks—the World Series, major golf tournaments and both college football and basketball games have all featured these well-paid voices, such as Jim Nantz, Joe Buck and Al Michaels.

    The list does not include Jim Rome, Pat McAfee, Michael Strahan or Stephen A. Smith, who host daily shows.

    Rather, the focus is on play-by-play and color commentators.

7. Mike Tirico

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    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 19: (L-R) Matt Fitzpatrick of England speaks with sportscaster Mike Tirico after being awarded the U.S. Open Championship trophy in honor of his victory during the final round of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 19, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
    Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

    Mike Tirico has enjoyed a wide variety of experiences.

    During a 25-year run at ESPN, Tirico held a handful of jobs. Most visibly, though, he was the play-by-play announcer on Monday Night Football from 2006 to 2015 before joining NBC.

    Since his arrival, Tirico has contributed to everything from the NFL and NHL to the Olympics, golf and horse racing. Beginning in the 2022 NFL season, he'll officially replace Al Michaels as the play-by-play man for Sunday Night Football.

    Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported Tirico's salary is around the $10.5 million range.

6. Jim Nantz

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    NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 04: CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz interviews Ochai Agbaji #30 of the Kansas Jayhawks on the podium after the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 72-69 during the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament National Championship at Caesars Superdome on April 04, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    In early April, Jim Nantz becomes the preeminent voice on the sports calendar.

    He heads the coverage for The Masters, the first major golf tournament annually, before handling the weekend rounds of many PGA Tour events throughout the year. He's also a play-by-play voice for the men's NCAA tournament, calling every portion of March Madness from the first round through the Final Four.

    During the fall, he pairs with Tony Romo on the No. 1 team for NFL games on CBS. As the rotation dictates, Nantz calls the Super Bowl.

    Marchand noted CBS had gone as high as $10.5 million in Nantz's latest contract negotiation.

T-4. Al Michaels

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    BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 03: Television broadcaster Al Michaels looks on prior to the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium on November 3, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
    Will Newton/Getty Images

    For more than five decades, Al Michaels has been synonymous with prime-time coverage.

    He called the "Miracle on Ice" in the 1980 Winter Olympics and several World Series. In 1986, he embarked on a 20-year stint heading Monday Night Football for ABC until he left in 2006.

    As part of a memorable trade—one that returned "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" to Disney—Michaels went to NBC. He provided the play-by-play on Sunday Night Football through the 2021 season.

    According to Marchand, Michaels "will be paid near the Joe Buck neighborhood" of $15 million annually to lead Amazon's broadcast of Thursday Night Football.

T-4. Joe Buck

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    CANTON, OH - AUGUST 07: Fox Sports NFL Analyst Joe Buck speaks after receiving the Pete Rozelle Radio - Television award during the Pro Football HOF Centennial Class of 2020 enshrinement ceremonies on August 7, 2021 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, in Canton, OH. (Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    In an offseason filled with NFL broadcast movement, Joe Buck made a big-money jump to the four-letter network.

    Buck agreed to a five-year, $75 million deal with ESPN, per Marchand, to call Monday Night Football.

    While not necessarily a surprise, it was a considerable change for Buck. He joined Fox Sports at its launch in 1994 and primarily worked as the No. 1 team's play-by-play voice for the NFL on Fox, along with the World Series. He also contributed to major golf tournaments on occasion.

    Buck's new role remains alongside Troy Aikman, his broadcast partner at Fox for two decades.

3. Kirk Herbstreit

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    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: ESPN College Gameday host Kirk Herbstreit listens to the conversation prior to a college football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Wisconsin Badgers on September 25th, 2021 at Solider Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Diversify, diversify, diversify.

    Kirk Herbstreit has apparently taken the advice to heart, and it's landed him a pair of lucrative contracts.

    The former Ohio State quarterback joined ESPN in 1996 and has since become one of the most recognizable figures for the network's college football coverage. He's a top analyst on College GameDay and the color commentator for ABC's prime-time games, earning about $6 million per year, per Marchand.

    Long suspected to be eyeing an NFL gig, Herbstreit found that opportunity on Thursday Night Football with Amazon for 2022 and beyond. Marchand reported he'll have an eight-figure salary.

    Between the contracts, then, Herbstreit is set to receive $16-plus million per year.

T-1. Troy Aikman

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    ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: (L-R) Tory Aikman talks with Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys before the game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Shortly before Buck hopped to ESPN, Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman did the same.

    Aikman left Fox, where he'd worked since 2001, to provide color commentary for Monday Night Football. Marchand noted Aikman inked a five-year pact in the $90 million range.

    Through the 2021 season, Aikman has been a part of six Super Bowl telecasts. The next one he's expected to work is 2026—which, for now, is the final year of his contract—when ABC broadcasts the game.

T-1. Tony Romo

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 18: Tony Romo attends the 2022 Paramount Upfront at 666 Madison Avenue on May 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
    Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

    CBS wasted no time putting former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo next to Nantz following his retirement as a player.

    For the 2017 season, Romo replaced Phil Simms on the network's top pairing and quickly drew praise. Romo dazzled viewers by predicting plays—though he's not done that as often lately—while bringing a fresh energy to the CBS booth.

    As a result, per Marchand, Romo commanded a 10-year, $180 million offer from CBS in 2020 as ESPN tried to lure him away.