What’s the difference between a color commentator and a play-by-play announcer?

When two novice commentators take over the mic to call a game, both generally gravitate toward calling the action they see in front of them. What you end up with are two play-by-play announcers and little interesting commentary. 

A play-by-play announcer describes the game that’s going on as it happens. On the other hand, someone doing color commentary might offer some analysis, tell some stories, or share statistics of the players and teams. 

Here are a few resources to share with budding announcers to help them learn the difference between the two positions. 

For more livestreaming tips, check out our guide.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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One thought on “What’s the difference between a color commentator and a play-by-play announcer?

  • October 13, 2021 at 9:31 am

    Looking for info on very astute sports commentater on Spotsnet October 13 2021
    TSN TV .Speaking on how power and control rule societal behaviour today. Made a lot of sense. Sort of ” fox in the henhouse “. Which if not challenged ,weakens power of everyone to be represented.

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