What to watch during the Olympics if you're not a sports fan

Wil Anderson hosts the TV series Gruen.
Wil Anderson hosts the TV series Gruen. ABC

WITH the Rio Olympics kicking off today, it's a double-edged sword for TV viewers.

For sports fans there's a glut of coverage across three of Seven's channels plus via online streaming and apps, not to mention the coverage by the other free-to-air and pay TV channels.

They will be in heaven for the next 17 days, but for the rest of us it's a bit of a barren landscape as the big three commercial networks wait to launch their big new shows "after the Olympics”.

Luckily the ABC is here to save the day, or at least Wednesday nights.

Gruen, one of Aunty's most popular formats, returned to our screens this week and host Wil Anderson was in top form, ripping into everything from failed hash tag campaigns and instant coffee to telling Telstra to "f off”.

You don't have to be an advertising buff to watch the series, which analyses advertising, marketing, campaigns and spin.

As much as we'd like to think we're immune, everyone is exposed to and influenced by advertising and marketing.

Whether it's at the supermarket, on the small screen or our smart phones, we live in a sea of corporate and political spin.

The combination of stand-up comic Anderson's acerbic, witty observations (which often make his co-stars blush) and the expert insight of regular panellists Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft is what makes Gruen entertaining and engaging.

You learn something and usually laugh about it.

A high standard of production starts during the show's rehearsal period, during which Anderson runs four mock shows to test potential new panellists and topics.

It's also a chance for Anderson and the crew to get into the groove so they can hit the ground running in their first real taping.

Most other panel shows don't go to this extra effort, even though they'd benefit from it.

All that hard work behind the scenes pays off when it comes to the show's ratings figures.

Gruen has been one of the ABC's most-watched programs and this year appears to be no different.

Wednesday's premiere was the fifth most-watched show of the night, out-rating Offspring and even The Bachelor, with nearly onemillion metro viewers.

Topics:  gruen insider tv what's on

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