The third installment in our marketing audit of the Anaheim Ducks brings us to "Place." Of all the five Ps, "Place" is perhaps the one component that is most open to interpretation. While some believe that "Place" refers to the physical location where your product is marketed and sold, others take "Place" to mean the channels where your product is marketed and sold. For the purposes of our audit, we'll go with the second perspective (and anyway, I don't think Honda Center is going anywhere anytime soon) and we'll be focusing on how hockey is delivered to Ducks fans.
Anaheim fans can consume a Ducks game in a variety of ways including in-person, via radio, via TV, and via the Internet. Join me after the jump for a quick review and analysis of each of the live and radio experience. I'll put up the TV and Internet review later this week.
Simply put, there's no better live sport in the world than hockey and it's really difficult to capture the intensity and emotion of the sport in any other medium. If you're a Ducks fan, you really should be making the effort to head out to Ponda at least a few times a season to remind yourself of why you love hockey so much. Even in a blow out, there are few things that rival the experience of a live hockey game and it's truly difficult to pitch the sport to a newbie without having them see a game live first.
As the hockey-viewing experience goes, I get the sense that the Ducks do a pretty good job. Admittedly, I've only ever seen a game at GM Place in Vancouver (during the Olympics) and at Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix. Compared to both of these venues, I think the Ducks capture the intensity and passion of a hockey game without getting too kitchsy. I've seen people at AC complain that the Ducks don't go such a great job of firing up the crowd during the game (I'm looking at you, Jen), but I really don't mind at all. I'm of the opinion that hockey is one of those sports that sells itself. Do you need mid-game entertainment in baseball? Absolutely. But I don't think you need so much of that stuff in hockey, because I think hockey is such a more visceral experience and often times those things come off as gimmicky to me.
One area where I think the Ducks have the experience nailed is their video packages. I still remember getting chills during Opening Night this year when they first played the package set to "Uprising" by Muse (this video is kinda crappy quality, but it's the best I could find). If I remember correctly, the Ducks used three different songs over the course of 2009-2010 (the aforementioned "Uprising" by Muse, "Fuel" by Metallica, and "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters) and each of the video packages did a great job of getting the blood going. When we went to Phoenix, I really expected something comparable and I was pretty disappointed at their intro package. It was pretty short, and it was more or less Shane Doan and a bunch of other dudes. The Ducks have always (says the guy who's been to a year and a half of hockey) done a great job of showing the raw intensity of the game and the team as a whole with their videos and as long they keep this up in the future, I'll be completely happy. In all honesty, it's one of the things I'm most looking forward to in 2010-2011 (as a recovering former wrestling fan, I'm a sucker for video packages).
Most Ducks games are carried on their main terrestrial radio partner, KLAA AM 830. Additionally, every Ducks game is carried for free on-line and all Ducks games are carried on XM Satellite Radio, regardless of whether or not they're carried by KLAA.
Because KLAA is co-owned by the same ownership group as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Ducks get completely and totally screwed. Any time there's a conflict, the Ducks games are relegated to the Internet. As a sports fan, I have a HUGE problem with preemptions, and it is inexcusable for local radio to be pre-empted. I really wish the Ducks could finagle a deal with 710 ESPN or another network in the area to make sure that all of their games are carried live on local radio. I also think it would behoove the Ducks to come to some sort of broadcasting arrangement with XX 1090, San Diego's sports-radio station. XX 1090 has one of the strongest transmission signals on the west coast and it would also open-up the Ducks to a market they should be targeting.
At any rate, the Ducks MUST have a partner or set of partners that will ensure every game is carried on local radio. While TV is arguably more important in this day and age, radio is an important vehicle for any sport, because it's free and pretty much readily available. Someone shouldn't have to listen online or have XM (although as a hockey fan I LOVE having XM) to hear the Ducks. Although KLAA does occasionally air Duck Calls with Josh Brewster after home games, it would also be great for the Ducks to have some kind of station locally that would acknowledge them on a more regular basis (KLAA seems to be nothing but Angels talk).
Steve Carroll and Dan Wood are the Ducks' main radio guys, and I think they do a pretty good job with the games. I will say that I preferred Brent Severyn's voice to that of Dan Wood, but in terms of content, I think they both do a reasonably good job. I like that the Ducks radio guys aren't completely obnoxious (that dude from Pittsburgh makes me want to murder a Pens fan anytime he calls a Crosby goal), and I think they do a pretty good job keeping up with the action as it's unfolding. As someone who's listened to baseball on radio my entire life, I'm amazed at how well hockey radio announcers can keep up with the pace of the game. I would imagine hockey has got to be one of, if not the most difficult sports to broadcast on radio and they really do a great job.
So there's part one of the "Place" analysis. Overall, the Ducks get a "C" from me. I think they get a "B+" for their live experience, but they lose major points for the lack of a legitimate radio partner.
What do you think? Do the Ducks do a good job with the live experience? Do you even care about radio? How do you feel the Ducks do with these two "Places" and how would you improve what they do?