Tips to deliver perfect sports commentary with examples

by | Jul 13, 2021

Nigel Pearson’s top tips and examples on how to deliver the perfect live stream sports commentary.

The well respected broadcaster Nigel Pearson, who covers football, darts and speedway for Sky Sports, BT Sport, Eurosport and Talksport, discussed the role of a commentator following TicketCo Media Services’ ground-breaking multi-year Media Rights deal with the Southern Football League.

The league level agreement means teams in tiers seven and eight of English football can broadcast matches live online, making matches more accessible to fans. Nigel said providing fans with a quality commentary service is essential for clubs wishing to deliver a fantastic virtual match-day experience and secure repeat ticket sales.

Here the sports broadcaster of more than three decades outlines his insights into how to make your match-day commentary a success.

Passion for sport

Nigel’s work in media started as a trainee news reporter at the County Express in Stourbridge. He developed a passion for broadcasting, though, and now commentates on some of the world’s biggest sporting events on television and radio.

“Being a successful sports broadcaster is all about having a passion for what you do,” he said. That applies at all levels of broadcasting.”

Commentary tips

So, what are Nigel’s top three tips to commentators wanting to provide fans with the best live stream commentary experience?

Be neutral

“I’m a big West Bromwich Albion supporter, but when I commentate on the Baggies for Talksport I do so without being biased. I commentate ‘down the middle’. Commentators cannot be seen to be biased towards a team, particularly on a live stream where many viewers will be supporting the visiting side.”

Be authoritative

“This is so important. If you have an authoritative voice, people will listen and hang onto every word you say. Be strong, confident and engage the viewer.”

Prepare appropriately

“You have to prepare to commentate on both teams, not just the side you are familiar with. Show respect to the opposition if you are commentating on a match involving your club. Having the right stats and knowledge of both teams means you will avoid a situation where your commentary sounds biased, making it likely for people to turn off.”

Know your audience

“Commentating on television can be different to radio. On radio, you need to paint a picture of the game in the listener’s head. This means describing every detail that is happening in front of you. Extra detail we add into radio commentaries might not necessarily work or add value to a television or online broadcast.”

Quality commentary

Earlier this year, TicketCo Media Services helped UK ice hockey clubs successfully stage the inaugural NIHL Spring Cup via the Streaming Series. All matches were live streamed into the homes of thousands of ice hockey fans worldwide. Clubs reported one of fans’ biggest areas of praise or concern regarding live streaming was the quality of commentary provided.
Nigel understands why this was the case.

“You can’t go over the top when a goal goes in or a try is scored,” he said. “Don’t scream your head off so your voice cannot handle it. Play to your strengths, do what you think your voice can manage and don’t stretch your voice so it sounds painful.”

Research and preparation

One issue commentators of semi-professional sports clubs might have is a lack of information about players from visiting teams they are unfamiliar with. Nigel, however, believes there is no excuse for bad preparation and advised commentators to contact people in similar posts at clubs within their division.

“Before the internet, I would pick up a morning paper to learn the predicted starting XI and cut out newspaper previews and put them in a scrapbook and take it to the ground,” he said.

“Most information is now available online. But if it is not, call on the support of others. I work closely with a darts statistician to enhance the quality of my commentary on Sky Sports, I do not mind admitting that. Having one or two lines on each player can help ensure you are the expert on that game.”

Nigel also advised commentators to research the correct pronunciation of players’ names, this can often annoy viewers if delivered incorrectly.

Dealing with criticism

Most roles – even voluntary ones – in the sports sector are open to public scrutiny.

Despite commentating on Champions League finals, World Darts Championships and Speedway Grand Prix events, Nigel can still be the victim of online abuse. But he had some excellent words of advice for commentators broadcasting online.

“Receiving criticism online is unfortunately part of being a commentator,” said Nigel. “Some people have tweeted vile abuse to me. But each day, the people I work for love the commentaries I provide and that is all that matters. Don’t listen to faceless cowards. Instead, speak to people you work for and seek advice from the people who have put you in the commentary box. At times you will need thick skin, but it’s a fantastic role to have.”

Further information about TicketCo Media Services partnership with the Southern Football League can be read here.

Photo: Taylor Lanning Photography

Written by Shaun Reynolds

Communications advisor and expert storyteller with Fortitude Communications. A former news reporter and sports editor of five years across several UK regional titles. Experienced in photography and social media management with a passion for the outdoors.

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