January 13, 2011
Proving that less is more, the NFL's preeminent announcing team, NBC's Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, are the least talkative booth in the NFL.
A study by The Count analyzed the first 15 minutes of every game from Week 1 to see which booths were the most and least chatty. It concluded that the CBS team of Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots were the most loquacious, getting in 189.2 words-per-minute while, at the other end of the spectrum, Michaels and Collinsworth clocked in at 137.3 wpm.
[Related: ESPN fires announcer for sexist comment]
Michaels is efficient with his play-by-play, succinctly announcing the particulars of the play and always giving the spot and remaining down and distance. Collinsworth stays on topic, focusing on breaking down replays rather than immediately going back to a previous talking point every time he speaks. And with NBC cameras and directors providing the best visuals, staying quiet sometimes and letting the pictures do the talking is a good way to go.
Harlan was the chattiest play-by-play man, speaking 120.9 words-per-minute, while Kenny Albert was the quietest at 55.9. Seeing as how Albert fights with Daryl Johnston (99.3 wpm, the most of any color man) and Tony Siragusa for air-time, his relative silence makes sense.
As a whole, CBS is home to a chattier bunch than FOX. Of the top nine wordiest Sunday afternoon teams, CBS had six. Meanwhile, FOX had four of the bottom five announcing teams. That's too convenient to be coincidence. Does CBS instruct its booths to talk more?
The network's lead announcing duo of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman was the second-least talkative booth, just behind Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick. (For as much as Billick loves to hear himself talk, it's a bit of a surprise that he's so low on the list. Maybe he had a sore throat that day.) CBS's top team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, ranked ninth out of 14 on the list.*
ESPN's "Monday Night Football" booth was the fifth-most chatty regular booth (162.7 wpm), though Ron Jaworski was the least talkative color analyst. He only managed 33.2 wpm, a full 60 less than Johnston did on FOX. Thanks, GRUDEN. (If Gruden is still in the booth next year, The Count should tally how many "that guy's"-per-minute the ex-coach delivers.)
The top five:
The bottom five:
The verbosity of Harlan and Wilcots is impressive. I timed myself reading the Wall Street Journal article aloud, speaking at a normal pace without stopping, and got through 187 words in 60 seconds.
* On The Count's list, ESPN's second booth of Brad Nessler and Trent Dilfer ranked No. 4. We threw out that result since Nessler/Dilfer only worked one game this season.
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