ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” will take on Leno and Letterman directly starting in January

In what it is calling a “strategic shift in late-night strategy,” ABC announced today that starting Tuesday, Jan. 8, Jimmy Kimmel Live will be moving to the 11:35pm time slot, where it will go head-to-head with The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Show With David Letterman. Kimmel’s program is the only late-night broadcast talk show to increase in Total Viewers this past season, growing 3 percent over the prior season to generate its most-watched season in five years.

Additionally, ABC’s late-night news program Nightline will at the same time be moving to the 12:35am time slot. Nightline will also make a move into primetime with an hour on Friday nights at 9pm starting March 1.

In making the announcement, Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of 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 [11:35pm] time slot. … 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.”

Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, added, “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.”


Photo: Bob D’Amico/ABC