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On the eve of Jimmy Kimmel Live’s 10th anniversary on air, the ABC late-night show is finally getting its bump to the coveted 11:35 p.m. slot, moving Nightline to 12:35 a.m.
The move, which is attributed to ratings momentum, advertising demand and increased revenue potential, will put the network’s late-night franchise in a slot that allows it to go head-to-head with NBC’s The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman. The news comes as host Jimmy Kimmel, 44, has extended his contract for two more years, keeping him at ABC until at least 2015. JKL will shift into the new time period Tuesday, Jan. 8, a day after the network airs the BCS National Championship Game.
As part of the reshuffling, Nightline will expand its programming commitment with an hour of primetime programming at 9 p.m. Fridays, beginning March 1. What Would You Do? — which has aired in that slot — will be shifted to a new locale, with one source noting that it likely will add more installments.
“The time is right to make the move,” Disney/ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney said in a statement. “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. This shift also allows us to bookend our programming day with compelling news content.”
In early 2011, ABC announced it was trimming five minutes off of the end of Nightline, which would allow JKL to move from 12:05 a.m. to midnight, as part of Kimmel’s new two-year deal. At the time, ABC News president Ben Sherwood stressed that Nightline would stay put at 11:35 p.m. and that the move was a “strategic” means to better leverage the strength and value of both shows. A decade earlier, ABC was prepared to dump the news program for a Letterman-fronted late-night show.
The news continues the recently engaged Kimmel’s year of firsts: the first time he emceed the White House Correspondents Dinner, the first time he was invited to host the Emmy Awards and the first time his program is up for an Emmy in the late-night or variety show category.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! is coming off of its most-watched season is five years, growing 3 percent in total viewers and proving the only broadcast late-night show to register an uptick this year. During the most recent sweep in July, the series surged 15 percent in total viewers, while Nightline ranked no. 1 among the key demos — both adults 25-54 and adults 18-49 — during the same period, beating both NBC’s Tonight Show and CBS’ Late Show.
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose
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