As an avid sports fan, the way a game is broadcasted by a network can be the difference between whether or not I watch it. Announcing is a big part of that decision making. Listening to good or bad announcers can make or break a viewing experience of a sport or game. Sometimes, I will even go out of my way to catch a game if the announcing team is good.
With the spring season upon us, the sports world is booming. During the months of April, May and June, there’s the NBA and NHL playoffs and the MLB regular season with plenty of games nationally televised. Viewers often get to hear different announcing teams on different networks.
With all that said, here’s my top 10 current play-by-play announcers:
1) Bob Costas
Announcing Duties: MLBN Thursday Night Baseball (occasional) & NBC’s Football Night in America host
Costas is one of the rare “true” professionals left in broadcasting even though he doesn’t announce many games anymore. He has the ability to tell the storylines within the game but also dig into the tougher storylines that the fans want to hear.
2) Jim Nantz
Announcing Duties: NFL on CBS (#1) & NCAA Basketball/NCAA Final Four (#1)
Like Costas, Nantz is another of the rare “true” professionals left. Nantz covers all of CBS’s top sporting events from the Super Bowl to the Final Four to the Masters and does it with class. I personally would like to see Nantz announce more regular season college basketball games as he currently only does a small handful of games before the tournament where his best work comes.
3) Gus Johnson
Announcing Duties: NCAA Football on FOX Sports (#1) & NFL on FOX (#8)
There’s a reason why Johnson’s nickname is “Screamin” Gus. His move to FOX, takes away the opportunity to call March Madness games, which he gained his reputation from. Gus is one of the most exciting announcers to listen to and makes a dull game good, “HA-HAAA”.
4) Thom Brennaman
Announcing Duties: MLB on FOX (#2) & NFL on FOX (#3)
Unlike some father/son duos in announcing, Thom Brennaman does a great job at making his own name/style. Thom recently got to work with his dad, Marty, in the broadcasting booth for Reds games. In my opinion, Thom’s work on FOX goes unappreciated as the “second string” behind Joe Buck for NFL and MLB games.
5) Mike “Doc” Emrick
Announcing Duties: NHL on NBC Sports (#1)
The only true hockey announcer on this list is one of the most enjoyable voices in sports broadcasting. Most viewers aren’t aware of the background of how Emrick got his nickname “Doc” which comes from his Ph.D in communications. In arguably the hardest sport to call, Emrick does a great job of keeping the viewers on top of the game.
6) Brad Nessler
Announcing Duties: NCAA Football on ESPN/ABC (mostly SEC games), NCAA Basketball on ESPN (mostly SEC games), ESPN Monday Night Football (only Week One Doubleheader) NFLN Thursday Night Football & NBA on ESPN (occasional)
Nessler’s work on ESPN networks over the last 20 years is irreplaceable. Calling just about everything from college basketball, college football, NFL, and NBA. He is ESPN’s number one utility man. Nessler’s knowledge in every sport he calls is a tremendous asset to ESPN’s broadcasts.
7) Dan Shulman
Announcing Duties: ESPN Sunday Night Baseball (#1), NCAA Basketball on ESPN (#1 – mostly ACC or Big East games) & NBA on ESPN (fill-in)
Shulman was underutilized at ESPN up until he got promoted to the Sunday Night Baseball team which has paid off for both parties. Shulman’s work in the booth is enjoyable in any game he calls. What gains points for Shulman (for me) is his ability to carry a professional manner even through tough times:
8) Marv Albert
Announcing Duties: NBA on TNT (#1), NCAA Basketball Tournament on CBS/Turner Sports (#2) & NFL on CBS (#4)
Without a doubt, Marv Albert is the best and most well known NBA play-by-play man in the game today. He is one of the most recognizable voices in announcing as he has been going strong for some 30+ years even though tough times (his legal issues). Albert’s best announcing came during his days at NBC where he would call classic Jordan games.
9) Brent Musburger
Announcing Duties: ESPN/ABC Saturday Night Football (#1), ESPN/ABC Little League World Series (semifinals and finals only)
Musburger has been announcing for most 40 years now and is still going strong. As ESPN/ABC’s number one play-by-play man, he has the ability to keep viewers entertained even in a bad game. His signature introduction to a college football game of “You are looking live at (name of venue)” gets any viewer psyched up for the game.
10) Al Michaels
Announcing Duties: NBC Sunday Night Football (#1) & NBC Olympics
Michaels has done just about every major sporting event over his three-plus decades as a play-by-play man. Michaels provided sports fans with memorable calls of the “Miracle on Ice” (1980 Olympics – USA defeats Russia) game and the 1989 World Series game 3 (Earthquake game). Besides calling those games, Michaels has also done NBA Finals games, NFL Super Bowls, College football and basketball, and played as host for the Triple Crown horse races.
- Kevin Harlan (NBA on TNT, NCAA Basketball on CBS/Turner Sports & NFL on CBS)
- Chris Folwer (ESPN College Football Thursday Night Football & host of College Gameday)
- Matt Vasgersian (MLB games on FOX, TBS and MLBN)
- Brian Anderson (MLB on TBS, NCAA Basketball on CBS/Turner Sports)
- Sean McDonough (ESPN Monday Night Baseball, NCAA Basketball & Football on ESPN/ABC)
Stay tuned for part two of this series, top 10 sports analysts…