Houston Astros Bring Amazon’s Cashier-Free Tech

Shoppers at Minute Maid Park can use Just Walk Out at select stores. Visitors to the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid ballpark now have access to a new perk. Amazon rolled out its Just Walk Out payment system at the stadium, enabling fans to check out at stores without a cashier. Major League Baseball kicked off its 2022 season on April 7, and this shopping feature could make it easier to grab a snack and hit the stands.

The Just Walk Out tech is featured in two locations at Minute Maid Park: the 19th Hole store on the Concourse level behind Section 156, and the Market store on the Honda Club level behind Section 211, according to an MLB press release. Visitors can buy souvenirs, food and drinks, including alcohol, using a credit card and virtual cart. How does it work? Customers insert their credit card at the entry gate. Once they’re inside the store, anything they grab will be added to their cart, and if they put it back on the shelf, it’s automatically removed. Once they’re finished shopping, they leave, and their card will be charged for all the items in their virtual cart. Shoppers who purchase alcohol must show their ID to a store employee. Our technology is designed to deliver a fast and frictionless shopping experience, so we’re thrilled to help eliminate checkout lines for fans when they need to refuel during games and between innings, Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology at Amazon, said in a statement.

Amazon first launched Just Walk Out in 2016 and has been implementing the checkout-free technology in retail stores around the world. Whole Foods Market, Resorts World Las Vegas, Hudson stores, and TD Garden are among those that offer it in select locations. It’s also in use at Amazon Fresh stores. Minute Maid Park marks the technology’s first foray into an MLB stadium.

Apple Teams With MLS to Exclusively Stream Soccer – Apple earlier this year struck a deal with Major League Baseball to stream Friday night games. Starting next year, fans of Major League Soccer will be able to stream that league’s games as well. The iPhone maker on Tuesday announced a 10-year agreement with MLS for a new streaming service that will exist exclusively through its Apple TV app or website.

Under the terms of the deal, rumored to be worth at least $250 million, according to Sports Business Journal sources, Apple gains streaming rights for all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches. Apple added that the new service will allow for fans to watch their local team in their home market without any local broadcast blackouts or the need for a traditional pay TV bundle. The games will be available in 1080p HD. For the first time in the history of sports, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, said in a statement. He touted that Apple’s offering will have no fragmentation, no frustration — just the flexibility to sign up for one convenient service that gives you everything MLS.

Apple’s deal with MLS is the latest in what appears to be a growing effort from the tech giant to become a destination for sports. The company has already received praise for its TV shows like Ted Lasso and Oscar-winning movie CODA since launching its $5-a-month Apple TV Plus service in 2019.

Apple’s move into sports brings new questions though. It wasn’t immediately clear how much Apple will charge for the new MLS streaming service, for example. The company says that a limited number of matches will be available for free, while those who pay for its Apple TV Plus service will be able to catch a broad selection of MLS and Leagues Cup matches as part of that regular subscription. Hardcore fans will have an option to pay for an additional all-in service.

MLS games have previously streamed on ESPN Plus, though that was only for out-of-market games. Local games required you to watch on a regional sports network, which usually meant the need for a cable TV, satellite or pricey streaming TV package.

Similar to its MLB deal, Apple will make the games available in the Apple TV app found on a number of devices and platforms including iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple TV boxes, game consoles and smart TV platforms like Amazon Fire TV, Google TV and Roku. While Apple still doesn’t have an Android app for phones or tablets, fans with those devices will be able stream games on tv.apple.com. In addition to streaming live games, Apple will also air a weekly live match whip-around show for fans looking to keep up with all the action.

In signing up MLS, Apple continues to build out its roster of sports streaming rights. Beyond the MLB deal, which has Apple TV as the exclusive home for two Friday night baseball games each week, the company has been heavily rumored to be the landing spot for NFL Sunday Ticket after an exclusive with DirecTV expires after the upcoming 2022 NFL season.

Rafael Nadal vs. Casper Ruud in the Men’s Final Today

Cord-cutting tennis fans need NBC or Peacock to watch the final match at Roland Garros. Rafael Nadal takes on Casper Ruud in the men’s final of the French Open on Sunday. Nadal is seeking his 14th French Open title and 22nd Grand Slam championship. Ruud is playing in his first Grand Slam final and is the first Norwegian to play in the final of a Grand Slam tournament. Nadal and Ruud have never played a match against each other before today, but the 23-year-old Norwegian grew up idolizing the 36-year-old Nadal. Expect plenty of huge, top-spin forehands when the two meet on Sunday.