The world of sports broadcasting has its perks from interviewing big-name athletes to sharing your opinions with the world, and many broadcasters are paid handsomely. They make the networks a lot of money, and in return, the networks reward them.
Sports media remains an overwhelmingly male field. More than 90% of anchors, commentators, and editors are men, but intelligent strong women have broken down the wall in the last few decades. Sadly, the unspoken stereotype was that women just don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to sports.
However, over the years, women have made progress and made their mark on the sidelines, in the booth, and in the studio. In 2017, there were finally women announcing a men’s March Madness game and Monday Night Football. In 2018, Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer were the first all-female broadcast team to cover an NFL game. In addition, Melanie Newman and Suzy Cool became the first all-female radio broadcast team to hit the airways and call a Salem Red Sox game. On the sidelines, sportscasters like Erin Andrews and Dianna Russini get the inside information.
Today, while male and female sportscasters report on the same games and create similar content, the pay gap is real. You can find many ‘highest-paid sportscasters’ lists and they are all usually dominated by men. For instance, the highest-earning sports commentator, CBS Radio’s Jim Rome, earns around $30 million a year and has the highest net worth, more than any other TV or radio sportscaster in the business.
After Rome, you will notice the top portion of the list is all male. You will see other names like Tony Romo, who received an unprecedented contract from CBS for $17 million a season, or Stephen A. Smith and Mike Greenberg, who earn between $6-17 million a year.
One of the top-earning female sportscasters is Samantha Ponder for ESPN who earns $4.9 million a year. She hosts the very popular Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN, the first woman ever to do so. Ponder has an impressive resume. From 2012 to 2016, college football fans started their days watching Ponder every Saturday on ESPN’s College GameDay. Ponder became a contributor to the show and a staple in college athletics.
Other female sportscasters that join Ponder are Linda Cohn, a Hall of Fame sportscaster that has been with ESPN since 1992 who reportedly makes $3 million annually, the popular Erin Andrews, Fox Sports lead sideline reporter who reportedly makes somewhere around $2 million annually from Fox, and Rachel Nichols, who was one of the prominent voices of the NBA, reportedly made around $1.5 million annually.
Just like their counterparts, many women sportscasters have become strong voices and highly respected journalists, but it’s not always an easy road. Many become targets on social media, criticized for being too pretty or not sports knowledgeable enough. Michigan State’s journalism professor Sue Carter has an optimistic view about the future of women in sports media though, saying, “There was a time when women were not permitted to cover sports at all. It’s still not on an equal basis, but progress is being made.”
Many women are working together to fight the gender pay gap. For instance, female ESPN employees have begun sharing each other’s salaries in an attempt to understand the company’s structure and gain leverage in future contract negotiations. While the gender wage-gap is prominent in nearly all industries in the United States, women are fighting for what is fair, even in the world of sports broadcasting. Just like the high profile attempt by the US Women’s Soccer Team’s well-publicized fight for pay equality, hopefully, more awareness of pay disparity in sports media will help bridge the gap.