In a move that will generate plenty of debate, ABC has decided to bump its popular three-decade old “Nightline” to 12:35 a.m., giving “Jimmy Kimmel Live” the coveted 11:35 p.m. slot starting January 8, 2013.
“Kimmel,” which debuted in 2003 (and wasn’t even on in Atlanta at first), used to start at 12:05 a.m., before being moved to midnight last year, cutting “Nightline” by five minutes.
This places all three major networks head to head for the first time in the talk-show category at 11:35 p.m. Jimmy Kimmel, 44, is significantly younger than his competitors on NBC (Jay Leno, 62) and CBS (David Letterman, 65). He will now alsoi compete with Stephen Colbert over on Comedy Central and parts of Conan O’Brien on TBS and Chelsea Handler on E!.
ABC cited in a press release “ratings momentum, advertising demand and increased revenue potential for entertainment programming in the 11:35 p.m. time slot” for the shift. Ratings for “Kimmel” are up 14 percent in July year over year.
Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, said: “Given the passionate fan base ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ has built over the past decade and the show’s ratings and creative momentum this season, the time is right to make this move. There is the potential for far greater upside over the long term with this shift, given increased advertiser demand for competitive entertainment programming in the time slot.”
As a way to soften the blow to the ABC News division, the network has promised “Nightline” a 9 p.m. Friday slot starting in March.
“Nightline” has been a legendary program that started as extended coverage of the Iranian hostage situation. It was hosted by Ted Koppel from March 1980 until 2005. The program shifted from single-topic episodes under Koppel to its multi-subject approach today. Ratings would frequently beat both Leno and Letterman, buffeting it from pressures for many years to be moved to 12:35 a.m. in favor of the rising Kimmel. But obviously, it could hold back those pressures no more.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Nightline” generated about $40 million in revenue last year (over 25 minutes) while “Kimmel” brought in about $100 million. As ABC noted, it seems more upside in “Kimmel.”
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk