ABC is making a major late-night shift with “Jimmy Kimmel Live" swapping the time slots with ABC News “Nightline" -- a move that looks
to give alternatives for young-skewing late-night advertisers.
Starting in January, the hour-long “Jimmy Kimmel Live” will get a better -- and perhaps more lucrative -- time slot, running at 11:35 p.m. with the half-hour "Nightline" shifting to 12:35 a.m.
The move comes as a surprise of sorts. "Nightline" has been first in many key viewer areas among all late-night fare -- beating NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" -- shows that also start at 11:35 p.m.
Now "Nightline," the longtime news magazine show, will expand five minutes for the new time slot. "Nightline" will also get an additional hour each Friday night, with a 9 p.m. edition of the show, beginning in March.
"It's kind of a curious move; I thought things were working," says Brad Adgate, senior vice president and corporate media research of media agency Horizon Media. He feels "Nightline" offers an alternative to entertainment programming of "Tonight" and "Late Show," while the 12:05 a.m. "Kimmel" start gave viewers another option in the middle of the NBC and CBS shows.
ABC touts that "Kimmel" has been on the rise as the only late-night show to grow in total viewers year-to-year, climbing 3% for its best results in five years. Season-to-date has "Kimmel" at a Nielsen 1.72 million average total viewers.
The late-night leader remains ABC's "Nightline" at 3.7 million season-to-date average viewers; NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" is at 3.6 million; CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman", 2.9 million; and "Kimmel" at 1.7 million.
By way of comparison, early-evening cable shows also compete well.
Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" gets 1.5 million
viewers and "The Colbert Report" pulls in 1.0 million, with TBS' "Conan" at 892,000 viewers. While these overall numbers are smaller, Adgate says the median age of these shows are much younger than
the broadcast fare, with the median age of two Comedy Central shows in the 40s and "Conan" in the mid-30s.
Adgate says Kimmel's median age right now is around 53.4, which is not much younger than "Nightline" at 57.3. Other late-night network entertainment shows' median ages are also in this range. Still, Adgate says about Kimmel: "He'll get a better shot. There is a perception that he'll get younger."
News programming shows like "Nightline" pull in older viewers ages 25-54, which attract TV advertisers including pharmaceutical, financial and insurance. But late-night entertainment shows cater to young 18-34 viewers who can attract higher-paying advertisers, such as theatrical movies, games, and mobile phone/service providers.
Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, stated: “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.”