ABC will move 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' against Jay Leno, David Letterman in 2013
'Nightline' goes later, but also gets a weekly primetime hour
Follow HitFix: Follow @hitfix
ABC is throwing down a late-night gauntlet by shifting "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to the 11:35 p.m. time slot, moving it into direct competition with "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Show with David Letterman."
The move, which could represent a major shake-up in the late-night landscape, won't take effect until Tuesday, January 8, 2013, so you don't need to set your calendars just yet.
ABC has timed the Kimmel shift to follow the promotional platforms offered by "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest," as well as sister network ESPN's coverage of the Bowl Championship Series.
In pushing Kimmel up into the more lucrative 11:35 slot, ABC will then have to bump "Nightline" back to 12:35, which would sound like a demotion for the venerable show, but the network has committed "Nightline" to an additional Friday 9 p.m. slot. That primetime exposure for "Nightline" won't kick in until March 1, when it will bump another piece of the ABC News equation -- Primetime's "What Would You Do?" -- at least temporarily off the schedule.
"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," blurbs Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group. "This shift also allows us to bookend our programming day with compelling news content. And the addition of a new primetime hour of ‘Nightline’ on Friday nights will ensure that the program has even more opportunities to continue its incredible, award-winning reporting."
ABC News President Ben Sherwood adds, "'Nightline' has proven its ability to grow over three decades on the air, with the show currently enjoying some of its highest ratings and best editorial work ever. The ‘Nightline’ team will now bring its excellent journalism to new time periods, and we especially welcome the chance to produce an hour every Friday in primetime, where new audiences will be introduced to the program’s signature storytelling, interviewing and investigations. I’m confident ‘Nightline’ and its dynamic anchors, correspondents and staff will enjoy many successes for years to come."
The 2011-12 season was the best for "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in five years, growing 3 percent over the previous season, which ABC says makes "JKL" the only late-night broadcast talk show to grow year-to-year in total viewers. "JKL" has also produced year-to-year audience growth in each of the last four sweeps periods, including the rarely discussed July sweep.
ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee blurbs, "The time is right for Kimmel to make this move…he’s ready, and so is his audience. For the past 10 years we’ve built the foundation for this shift, and we’ll be celebrating the New Year as only Jimmy Kimmel can... with that unique brand of humor and universal wit that has endeared him to fans of all ages."
The network's next big showcase for Jimmy Kimmel will be the hosting gig at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, September 23.