News and updates in podcast land is this weeks topic.

I thought I’d take a different approach to my update for this week (I’m sure some of you are waiting with baited breath to see if this is going to be a crazy Facebook style rant, but you’re bound to be disappointed, sorry!), and pull a few things I found in my inbox and dissect them, or at least summarily poke fun at them ;)

TechCrunch breaks the fascinating news story about Starbucks creating a podcast, Uplanders, as a debut into the land of original content programming.

[RELATED: How Mobile Affects the Shoppers Journey podcast – click here and listen]

WTF?  Starbucks woke up this morning and decided they were Netflix?  Or maybe Amazon Video?

I’m sorry, I cannot stop laughing.  Maybe they’re all smarter than I am up in the cold, wet hinterland of Seattle, but somehow I just don’t get it.  Is this yet another attempt to inculcate Starbucks into some sort of ‘lifestyle’ brand without actually having a lifestyle to base the idea around?

Today, Starbucks is becoming a media company. The company this morning debuted its first-ever original content series called “Upstanders” which aims to inspire Americans with stories of compassion, citizenship and civility at a time when our nation could use a reminder of our core values. The series features podcasts, written word, and video, and will be distributed via the Starbucks mobile app, online, and through the company’s in-store digital network.

There are 10 episodes in the series, which was written and produced by Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz along with Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks executive producer and a former senior editor of “The Washington Post.”

We’ll certainly have to keep our collective eye on this one, since it’s probably the craziest story I’m going to mention this morning.

Podcasting has its’ own upfronts. Like seriously, who knew?

If you’re new to the podcasting business and have no clue what I’m talking about, don’t worry, there are plenty of people who are old hats at podcasting that have absolutely zero idea what I’m rambling on about at the moment.

As a matter of fact, they’re probably trying to decide whether it’s faster just to Google “podcast upfronts” than it is to keep reading at the glacial pace I’m moving with this explainer text…

[RELATED: Using Podcast Marketer to increase listens, shares, subscribers]

Television shows have a thing – it’s called upfronts – it’s where the advertisers and ad agencies pre-bid on ad purchases for a particular show before the season even starts.  Yep, with no idea whether or not a show will deliver the goods (err, eyeballs, or earbuds in this case), they’re buying the ads at a specific rate.

It turns out that podcasting has done this – two years running now – and while there aren’t that many participants, the big guys are doing it.   From the HotPods newsletter

(1) This year’s festivities saw an increase in the number of participating presenters, from eight podcast publishers to twelve. The returnees were: NPR, WNYC Studios, ESPN, CBS, AdLarge, Panoply, Midroll, and Podtrac’s recently spun-off ad sales arm known as Authentic. Joining the slate were: Wondery, HowStuffWorks, Time Inc., and PodcastOne. A strange mish-mash of companies, to be sure, with the proportion of companies with legacy media roots slightly outweighing the digital natives.

There’s a TON more about it in the HotPods newsletter, but I think this is one of those topics that you’re either madly interested in (like me) or you wish would just die a quick death like it fell in a vat of boiling acid and never made a peep again.  So you can be the judge and click or not as you like.

Last but not least, the NY Times is getting serious about podcasting.

Of course I love this one, since Modern Love is one of those podcasts that is using mobile wallet updates to market their content, a la Podcast Marketer – and anyone who sees the wisdom of our ways is always in my good graces, regardless of much else they do short of killing puppies.

No less than Politico let’s us in on this major deal about the Times and their level of seriousness; here’s the basic recap, and you can click through for more –

Tobin said, “We went from the special projects, documentary series, all things experimental, to exclusively focusing on new program development and out of that is when the seeds for that were planted to focus on sustainable programming.”

We can see in the WBUR work, in the Times’ new initiative and much more widely – as Gimlet Media, Wondery and Panoply all emerge as podcast networks – a growing up of the podcast trade. Podcasting moves beyond the experimental.

“There’s an appreciation for the work that it actually takes to make great programming, not just, ‘Let’s try this as an experiment,’ but to put production resources up front,” adds Tobin,

As it builds a podcasting strategy – “several” more are expected to be launched within the next year – the Times will build both internal capacity and work with partners and vendors.

So there you go!  Everyone needs a podcasting strategy now, or else we’ll never get into the upfronts or become big media players like Starbucks.  Yeah, just joking.

If you’re using your podcast to help sell your business, keep spending your time worrying about the content and the audience and leave the rest of this stuff to the other guys.