From Monday 30 January 2012, if you don’t like reality TV programming you’ll be doing exactly what the free-to-air networks don’t want you to do – turning off the box and doing something else.

With the Australian Open Tennis finishing the night before it opens the way for a charge of Ch7 programming that’s been waiting to start “after the tennis”. Welcome to the screen My Kitchen Rules and Please Marry My Boy. With Channel 10 launching its 2012 ratings assault the week before, it has already rolled out previous ratings juggernaut The Biggest Loser though early indications are that the market aren’t that interested in the show as they’ve been previous years. Perhaps their promotion of the show has hurt them as many have suggested. Channel 9 have rushed forward their new 7pm reality programming to match Ch10, so from Monday Excess Baggage starts 4 nights a week. All in all, the schedule feels a little… full.

Here’s what Monday for the next few weeks looks like:
ABC1 – ABC News
SBS one – World News Australia (continuing from 6:30pm)
Ch7 – Home and Away
Ch9 – Excess Baggage
Ch10 – The Biggest Loser Australia

ABC1 – 7:30
SBS one – Mythbusters (starting 7:35pm)
Ch7 – My Kitchen Rules (starting 7:35pm)
Ch9 – Excess Baggage (continues)
Ch10 – The Biggest Loser (continues)

ABC1 – Best of Australian Story
SBS one – Mythbusters (continues)
Ch7 – My Kitchen Rules (continues)
Ch9 – The Big Bang Theory (new episode – starting at 8:05pm)
Ch10 – Modern Family (repeat)

ABC1 – Miracles
SBS one – Freddie Flintoff vs the World (starting at 8:35pm)
Ch7 – Please Marry My Boy (starting at 8:45pm)
Ch9 – The Mentalist (repeat, new episodes soon – starting at 8:35pm)
Ch10 – NCIS: Los Angeles (new episode)

Sure, there’s a bunch of alternative programming on the digital multichannels but not many people seem to watch them (and while the analog switch off is still to complete the multichannels aren’t reaching everyone across the country).

From Mon 20 Jan, ratings are still two weeks away from starting. This scheduling is the networks trying to get you – the viewer – to form habits ahead of the all important period where broadcasting the shows counts for something. If you’re not a reality fan then the 7:30-8pm timeslot looks particularly grim. There is some sunlight in the schedule in Santo, Sam & Ed’s Sports Fever on Ch7 at 10:45pm Monday night, but it’s likely to be too late for a lot of viewers.

These here are strange and interesting times as we roll into 2012. Strange and interesting. If only networks had some actual drama to deliver to us…