The one thing common between sports, reporting and millions of dollars is ESPN. With its world-renowned, million-dollar reporters, commentators, and analysts, ESPN is the holy grail of sports and sports graphs. From being run by two individuals to a multi-billion-dollar business with the highest-paid sports reporters, ESPN had run a long way. It has gone from a single channel company to having various sub-channels and radio shows and even podcasts and one of the best sports coverage channels in the world.
Why is ESPN one of the most popular sports channels, ESPN personalities, and how much are these personalities paid? All your questions are covered in just one article. All that is sports in ESPN, and ESPN is a million-dollar worth reporter or commentator.
ESPN and Personalities
Very few are fortunate enough to get to do the job that they love. Even fewer get paid well for it. Very rarely does one make millions off of it? The Venn diagram for sports, millions, and television might be a circle, but making it into a profession without actually playing a sport is a very, very small circle indeed. There is never a shortage of content creators or producers in a world where many are making a mark in the television industry for themselves by either being loved for what they have to say or being hated. Either way, one thing is for sure, cashing in that hundred thousand dollars worth of cheques can’t possibly get any better than it already is.
Whether you are one for graphs, analytics, sports, or just reporting, ESPN has something for everyone. No matter what coast you live on, country or longitude, ESPN is everywhere, and there is no escaping the ever-growing viewer base. Popular sports or niche sports, there is some channel owned by ESPN that is either covering it, analyzing each move made, or talking about it. And all these sports and analytic information and witty sport one-liners are brought to you by… ESPN personalities. The most talked about, most paid, and most ever-present individuals talk and talk, and we’ll talk more. From interviews to play-by-play and from recaps to upcoming announcements, ESPN covers it all, and they have the best speakers on board to bring the best of all sports and commentating for their audiences no matter how big or how small.
Everyone knows that the real money to be made is on TV. Long gone are the days of ‘just comfortable money’ made from writing for newspapers and magazines or even local television stations. National television jobs pay way more than the celebrities or people that they talk about getting paid. ESPN is the leading multinational multimedia sports entertainment brand with the widest range of sports covered. While ESPN might be accused of being biased, conflict of interests, and having controversies with its personalities and broadcasters, it remains the undisputed king of sports coverage with its competitors ranging from NFL to NBC Sport and Eurosport International. With multiple channels to cover everything from American football, basketball to baseball and even cricket, it had the widest range of sports coverage compared to any other channel company in history. If there’s a sport, then there’s ESPN coverage for it. ESPN does it all.
ESPN divides their on-camera personalities into five divisions:
The company enjoyed the fastest growth of any cable channel in the United States in the 1990s and still does, with its seven related channels and its five-sister networking and the flagship channel that is broadcasted to over 200 counties. The company started from a small rented office space in Connecticut by two recently fired father and son pair, Bill and Scott Rasmussen. ESPN was launched in 1979 and has only grown since and has launched many college rookie players into their profession and fame.
ESPN isn’t just restricted to national TV; it has expanded into radio and airs various sports talk and documentary-styles shows. Many of which had millions of subscribers for those popular sports to a few thousand for the very niche ones.
A few popular ones are:
- Pardon the Interruption – Sports television weekday talk show hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon who discuss the top sports stories of the day, along with the occasional appearance of the statistician, Tony Reali.
- SportsCenter – A daily sports news program that is a flagship program and covers various sports teams and athletes, and the highlights of the day.
- 30 for 30 – with the title of ‘too dramatic not to be real’ this is a series of documentary films. It began with the idea to make 30 films on the 30th anniversary of ESPN by celebrating the sports world’s biggest stories.
- College GameDay – A football and basketball-centric pre-game show that focuses heavily on college sports, with three regular hosts and a guest host, usually a celebrity, athlete, or another talk show host.
- First Take – Plays live episodes with reruns on weekdays starring Stephen A. Smith, one of the most successful ESPN faces, Molly Qerim, and Max Kellerman.
- Around the Horn – An American sports roundtable panel discussion show hosted by Tony Reali. The show sees four invited panelists discuss and debate the game.
- Monday Night Countdown – An American pre-games program that follows the American National Football League hosted by Suzy Kolber and various analysts.
Personalities and Money
ESPN reporters and personalities can make anywhere from the high hundred thousand to a few million.
Lisa Salters is probably one of the most well-known sports reporters and has covered the Olympics, the World Cup, and the Super Bowl. She estimates $235,000 per year.
Mick Golic, the co-host of Golic and Wingo, and Mike & Mike has been working with ESPN since 1995 and make $5 million.
Molly Qerim from First Take makes $500,000 and has bought the show to be one of the highest-rated sports talk shows on TV in the United States.
Al Michaels makes $6 million and has hosted Monday Night Football for nearly 2 decades, and is one of the most successful faces of sports broadcasting.
Other personalities include Joe Buck, Wendi Nix, Pam Oliver, Colin Cowherd, etc. The average ESPN side-line reporter salary is estimated to be between $10,001 to $237,526. Full-time reporters can earn an average of $85,000 annually, putting it at $41 per hour. Stephen Smit is believed to be the highest ESPN commentator at about $8 million a year.
Pop Culture and ESPN
ESPN has made many first marks through its inception to the present day. So much so that it is highly referenced in movies, shows, and other entertainment media and literature. So many movies have been made on the glorious days of famed athletes, and movies with the general theme of sports will include ESPN reporters and analysts in their stories.
Comedy sketches might like to poke fun at ESPN and its range of sports coverage, with people like Dennis Miller and George Carlin making ESPN the butt of jokes to shows like Late Night with David Letterman and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and even SNL with a fictional program called Scottish Soccer Hooligan Weekly and a parodied version of ESPN Classic.
Needless to say, and all jokes aside, ESPN had carved a very deep mark on the sports market and modern culture, with great influence on sports, the way it is viewed and commercialized.
- How does one become an ESPN reporter?
ESPN reporters are not just renowned for what they say but also for how they say it. Flair and exceptional audience engagement are a given for any sports reporting job. While not all ESPN reporters make million unless they are in the big leagues, most earn within the median range even with years of experience.
- What does the job include?
Sports reporters have to cover sporting events, interview athletes, and deliver updates in an engaging manner and very odd hours. In addition, there will be a lot of traveling as sometimes certain events will be held in other states or even other countries.
- Is it very hard to get a job as a sports reporter?
The industry is very comparative, as national on-screen positions are very highly paid. As a result, there will be ad-libbing regularly with required great speaking and presenting skills and a degree of thinking on one’s feet and keeping the audience engaged.
- Are there any educational requirements?
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education experience expected. However, you will be expected to work on smaller networks first to gain experience in the network room. There are internships that you can apply to provide you an ‘in’ early on.