ABC is finally moving Jimmy Kimmel Live!
But the late-night franchise will not get the coveted 11:35 p.m. slot so that it can go head-to-head with NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno and CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman.
Instead, ABC will start Kimmel at exactly midnight — instead of 12:05 a.m. — beginning Feb. 4. The move effectively shortens successful ABC News magazine Nightline (which begins at 11:35 p.m. after the late local news) by five minutes.
So Nightline will get a commitment from ABC for 13 primetime hours on the schedule this year. Last summer, Nightline had a handful of primetime hours.
In an email, new ABC News president Ben Sherwood stressed that Nightline will stay put at 11:35 p.m. Paul Lee, who last summer replaced Steve McPherson as head of ABC Entertainment, began his career in news at the BBC.
Sherwood noted in his email that Disney-ABC Television Group chief Anne Sweeney told him that the move was “strategic” and that it “better leverages the strength and value of both Nightline and Jimmy Kimmel Live! for our network. The midnight start for Kimmel keeps Nightline where it is, anchoring our late night lineup –where it regularly beats the competition— and gives Jimmy the chance to leverage that strong lead-in more effectively with a quicker connection to late night viewers, which will help him build on the great momentum his show has experienced over the past year.”