Group Critique 36: January 2020

The audio program features football, basketball and sports talk. The video includes basketball play-by-play and TV reporting.

Among the nuggets . . .

  • A common word you should exclude from your play-by-play vocabulary
  • A powerful technique for giving time and score
  • How planning sports talk is like planning vacation
  • Two words to never say consecutively when calling basketball
  • How to make your listener care about your broadcast
  • Suggestions for using b-roll in a package
  • A play-by-play technique that is great late in games, but not early-on
  • How to use energy and inflection to supercharge your words


Group Critique 35: December 2019

The last Group Critique of 2019 is here! The audio features football, basketball and baseball play-by-play. The video segment includes baseball and basketball.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • When it’s acceptable to give the score deficit instead of the numeric score.
  • Advice for doing live reads.
  • When statistics enhance, not hurt, your broadcast.
  • A suggestion for working a clever line into a broadcast.
  • Suggestions for keeping tabs on base-runners.
  • How talking less heightens drama.
  • How to use words to compliment the time and score graphic.


Group Critique 34: November 2019

The video features two football tracks and the audio features football, basketball and an interview.

Among the things you’ll learn:

  • TV:
  • The key time to NOT be talking on each play.
  • The difference between play-by-play on radio and TV boiled down to two simple sentences.
  • Who is right when you disagree with the on-screen graphic about how many yards are needed for a first down.
  • Radio:
  • How to punch up key plays.
  • A common mistake among basketball broadcasters regarding last names.
  • How to reset an interview and why it’s important.

And much more!


Group Critique 33: October 2019

This month’s critique session features 10 clips, ranging from football and baseball play-by-play to sports talk show hosting. Love the volume and variety this month!

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The information that should booked every play in football.
  • A key for being sure you leave your analyst sufficient time to comment.
  • Why it’s important to describe foul balls as accurately as balls put into play, and some good examples of it.
  • The play-by-play voice’s role as a sales person for the broadcast’s advertisers and a strong example of it.
  • Two words a sports talk host should never say.
  • An easy way to find your “best voice.
  • The proper tense for play-by-play broadcasts.
  • How to turn your play-by-play narrative into a story that will keep listeners engaged.
  • How to prevent your favorite words and phrases going from cool to cliche.


Group Critique 32: September 2019

The audio critique features football, basketball and baseball, while the one video we review this month is soccer.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What you must do before breaks to avoid sounding hurried after them.
  • What must be included before and after each football play.
  • Why it’s important to vary your energy level.
  • Two pieces of info that should almost always be given together.
  • When to incorporate edginess into your broadcast.
  • A fundamental that is mandatory in TV play-by-play.
  • The times of your telecast when you MUST watch the monitor.


Group Critique 31: August 2019

This month’s group critique session reviews six clips, including baseball, basketball and an interview.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • An important consideration when choosing the start of a demo segment.
  • An especially effective way to phrase an interview question.
  • The thing that must not be ignored when a runner is on base.
  • A two-word phrase that does not belong in your play-by-play.
  • The critical thing you must do on every basketball change of possession.


Group Critique 30: July 2019

We have audio and video this month. The audio features basketball, baseball and softball. The video includes football and, for the first time ever, auto racing!

Among the things you’ll learn . . .

  • When it’s okay to use players’ first and last names in basketball . . . and when it should be avoided.
  • The piece of information that is even more important to give consistently than time and score.
  • A quick and easy way to immediately elevate the energy in your broadcasts.
  • How to make listeners who don’t care about either team still care about your broadcast.
  • The definition of a great home run call.
  • When to share stories during your baseball broadcasts.
  • When to leave the previous play and turn your attention to the next one.
  • The recurring instance in a football broadcast when you should say nothing.
  • How to borrow from other sportscasters without being obvious.


Group Critique 29: June 2019

This month we critique football, basketball and for the first time ever, wrestling!

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The No. 1 way that insufficient preparation shows up in a broadcast.
  • Why it is important to get into commercial breaks quickly.
  • The point in a possession at which a basketball shot clock becomes relevant.
  • What it means to stay in the moment in a TV broadcast.
  • When to avoid sharing biographical and and historical information.


Group Critique 28: May 2019

This month we are featuring radio critiques of basketball, baseball and an interview. The TV critique features basketball play-by-play.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • A simple exercise to help you immediately find your big play voice
  • What it means for a play-by-play voice to get out of the library and onto the roller coaster
  • Two words to eliminate from your play-by-play vocabulary
  • An example of a strong interview question technique
  • Something you can get away with radio but not on TV
  • Good example of word economy in TV Play-by-Play


Find ESPN3 & Other Webcast NCAA Play-by-Play Opportunities

The following advice comes from an industry source who prefers to remain anonymous. Reap the wisdom from our generous benefactor!

With so many colleges and Minor League teams now moving to Web only productions like ESPN3, let’s look deeper into what the differences are and how to get your foot in the door.

Changes in how sports broadcasts are produced

Let’s first look at some differences of Web only productions. The old ESPN3 model has shifted over to ESPN+ for most conferences. What does that mean though?

For many viewers that means a small monthly fee to watch many of the same games that were included in their cable package. For others, it means being able to just pay the small fee and not being required to have a cable provider at all. This is important to note with the trend moving to an increase in cable cutting.

In terms of the schools and conferences it means big changes. If you search the Web hard enough, you will see press announcements with one common theme: Schools are now building out their own control rooms and producing games on campus versus hiring out local TV production companies to produce the games.

There are many full-scale content providers outside of ESPN

I define “full scale” as a live multi-camera video broadcast with dedicated broadcasters, graphics, and replay.

Along with ESPN & Fox, many tech companies now offer live full-scale streaming sports services. Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube are good examples. Many conferences in Division II have also decided to build their own channels on Roku. A few D-II schools are now moving to the E+ platform as well.

Long term ramifications of Web-only broadcasts

One common thing you see in the press releases is ESPN+ becoming a platform for not only football and basketball but all the major sports a school competes in. In most cases E+ is the exclusive home to a school or league’s coverage. It’s probably the most overlooked part of the contracts.

With more coverage comes an increase in demand for broadcasters. Now covering soccer, softball, volleyball, lacrosse, wrestling and other secondary or Olympic sports is more important than before. Schools may find more conflicts with multiple broadcasts happening on one day. This opens doors for more broadcasters.

How do I get in?

If you are looking to break in to the TV/video streaming world, first do some homework before reaching out to potential employers.

1. Think outside of your home base

Maybe you live near a city that has a major Power 5 NCAA program close by, but within a 90-minute drive there are 3-5 other programs that also air games live; Not to mention a number of Minor League and Independent league teams in that same radius.

2. Locate distribution details

Once you locate the teams, you next need to locate the distribution details. Review schedules to see which sports a school airs on which platform. Many of these details are publicly available with a quick Google search.

Look at some of the secondary sports. Chances are that football, basketball, and baseball are already covered by the a broadcaster that works year-round.

You then have a decent idea of how many sports a school covers and on which platform.

3. Look for local tournaments

Be sure to look at your area to see if they host any kind of tournaments. Florida, for example, hosts several college tournaments.

The organizers crewing those events often look for local broadcasters so they don’t have to pay travel expenses.

4. If you’re a college student, maximize the opportunity to gain reps and demo material

The interesting thing about broadcast trends is that student involvement is at an all-time high.

Many schools around the county use current or very recent students to fill out broadcast positions throughout the year. These positions often include sideline reporters, pre/post game reporters, or a play by play broadcaster for “Olympic Sports”.

Reach out and see if you can be in a broadcast assistant role like a spotter, stage manager, or stats person. These roles often have you sitting directly beside the broadcasters and you can learn a lot from just watching. Plus, you are now in the door and only one person getting sick or quitting away from being on air.

What should I include on TV/video streaming demo?

TV is different from radio in what to include on a demo.

Include an open

Shooting an open is a VERY important thing that producers look at when evaluating talent.

Demonstrate your ability to execute the details

Little things like getting in and out of breaks smoothly and ALWAYS having one eye on the program monitor are important.

Nothing is more frustrating than when a broadcaster is talking about something different than what is on the screen (which may be a graphic, featured player, or replay).

Edit the broadcast down

Include a number of short clips that show different aspects of the broadcast. Nobody has time to fumble through a link to a 3-hour broadcast.

How do I get TV/video demo material?

If you need to make a demo or even need some extra reps here are a couple suggestions:

Look a level down

Go to the high school level and see if a local high school does any video broadcasting. Many states have live broadcasts of football and basketball. Some just layer a radio call or may not use broadcasters at all.

Look to the D-II and D-III levels

Reach out and see if you can bring a camera, microphone, and tripod to do your own segments.

In a pinch, grab a special cable, mic, and tripod to record a standup using your smartphone. Even major broadcasters are using smartphones for productions!