ABC Extends "Kimmel," with Help from "Nightline"

ABC has given "Jimmy Kimmel Live" another season, extending the show through 2006 -- which may not yet be such a strong endorsement for a late-night show.

For "Kimmel" airs amid strong competition: the second half-hours of NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS's "Late Night with David Letterman"-- to which "Kimmel" ranks a distant third.

At 12:30 p.m., "Kimmel" gets somewhat better numbers -- but is still in third place against NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and CBS' "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."

"Kimmel" now averages 1.5 million viewers and drew its best ratings in months in the early part of September. The show starts in a tough time slot, 12:05 a.m., leading out of a weirdly matched program -- the not-so-funny "Nightline."

The Kimmel show always seems to exist as an island coming after "Nightline." But strange bedfellows are now getting familiar. "Kimmel"'s recent bump in ratings is, in part, coming from "Nightline" itself and its unfunny subject matter.



According to a column in the Washington Post, "the week before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, [Jimmy] Kimmel averaged 1.1 million viewers. The week Katrina hit, Kimmel averaged 1.6 million. The following week, when the Katrina horror story continued to unfold, Kimmel hit 1.7 million viewers -- his biggest crowd since late last year."

While "Kimmel"'s numbers grew, so, too did "Nightline"'s.

All this seems to have us scratching our heads about "appointment" viewing -- when viewers will watch a show and disregard the next show on that network. Appointment viewing counters traditional "lead-in" viewing, when lazy viewers, or those influenced by TV show promos, continue to watch the next program.

"Kimmel"'s viewers now seems to fall in between. The real, horrific events of a hurricane led into radically different content -- light, silly comedy. Perhaps it's a case of viewers needing a break from the tough realities of life.

Maybe that was ABC's intent in scheduling the show there, all along.

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