ABC News is swapping the timeslots of “Nightline” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in January.
In a memo to ABC staffers this afternoon, president Ben Sherwood wrote “ABC believes it has a strong growth opportunity in late night if Jimmy Kimmel Live precedes Nightline.”
Beginning January 8, Kimmel will air at 11:35pmET. The move puts Kimmel in direct competition with NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and CBS’ “Late Night with David Letterman.”
“Nightline,” which has had great ratings success in its current timeslot, will shift to an hour later, at 12:35amET, and will expand from 25 to 30 minutes. (The program was shortened last year when Kimmel moved to midnight.) “Nightline” will also get an additional hour each Friday night at 9pmET beginning in March. With the additional production, the network is expected to hire more people for the show.
“These changes take effect 20 weeks from now, and until then, Nightline remains in its existing time slot with a lot of important work to do, including covering two conventions, four debates and a presidential election,” Sherwood wrote. “Our viewers are counting on us to deliver the exceptional journalism that has always defined Nightline.”
Here are Sherwood’s full memo to staffers, as well as the official announcement from ABC:
I’m writing to let you know about changes the network is making in late night and primetime.
ABC believes it has a stronger growth opportunity in late night if Jimmy Kimmel Live precedes Nightline, so starting January 8th, Nightline and Jimmy Kimmel Live will switch time periods. Nightline is moving to 12:35 a.m. ET, and JKL will take over at 11:35 p.m. In this new arrangement Nightline will expand in length to fill the half hour, and, significantly, the Nightline team will also produce an additional hour every week in primetime on Friday nights at 9:00 p.m. beginning March 1st.
With its success and growth, What Would You Do? will also find a new home on the schedule.
As you all know, growth is a primary objective of ABC and our news division. In the last year the network has supported our important growth initiatives through the Yahoo! digital deal and our innovative joint venture with Univision and has helped us achieve the resurgence we’re enjoying at Good Morning America. And the network remains fully supportive of our strategy to win the present and future of news and information.
I know you’ll have many questions and we’ll answer them in smaller groups starting today.
For now, it’s important to note that 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.
These changes take effect 20 weeks from now, and until then, Nightline remains in its existing time slot with a lot of important work to do, including covering two conventions, four debates and a presidential election. Our viewers are counting on us to deliver the exceptional journalism that has always defined Nightline.
Next year, when these changes are implemented, I’m confident that our loyal viewers will stay with Nightline, and its immensely talented anchors, correspondents and staff will enjoy many successes for years to come.
ABC MAKES STRATEGIC SHIFT IN LATE NIGHT STRATEGY
“JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE” MOVES TO 11:35 P.M. ON JANUARY 8 TO CAPITALIZE ON RATINGS MOMENTUM, HIGHER AD DEMAND AND GREATER REVENUE UPSIDE
AUDIENCES CAN BEGIN AND END THEIR DAY WITH ABC NEWS AS “NIGHTLINE” SHIFTS TO 12:35 A.M. ON JANUARY 9 AND ADDS A PRIMETIME HOUR
EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT AT 9:00 P.M. BEGINNING MARCH 1
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 . . . Capitalizing on ratings momentum, advertising demand and increased revenue potential for entertainment programming in the 11:35 p.m. timeslot, ABC today announced a strategic shift in its late night strategy to better position the network for increased ratings and financial performance over the long term. On Tuesday, January 8, “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the only late-night broadcast talk show to increase its Total Viewers this past season, will move to 11:35 p.m., putting the show in head-to-head competition with “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Late Show with David Letterman.” Proven late night performer “Nightline” will shift to 12:35 a.m., allowing viewers to begin and end their broadcast day with news. The moves are timed to take advantage of the built in promotional platforms provided by ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” and ESPN’s Bowl Championship Series, which culminates with the National Championship Game on Monday, January 7. In addition, “Nightline” will expand its programming commitments with a move into primetime, Friday nights at 9:00 p.m. beginning March 1. Given its success and growth, the ABC News series “What Would You Do?” will also find a new home on the schedule.
In making the announcement, Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and President, 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 timeslot.” She continued, “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.”
For the complete 2011-12 Broadcast TV Season, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” grew its overall audience over the prior season by 3% in Total Viewers to generate its most-watched season in 5 years. In addition, JKL was the only late-night broadcast talk show to grow year over year in Total Viewers.
And the show’s ratings momentum has continued. During the recent July sweep, ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” surged year to year by 14% in Total Viewers to deliver its most-watched July sweep ever. Notably, JKL grew its overall audience year over year in all 4 sweeps of the 2011-12 season. JKL was also up over the year-ago sweep by 3% in Adults 18-49 to score its best July in 4 years – since 2008. In addition, ABC’s JKL stood as the only broadcast talk show in late-night to achieve yearly growth in either Total Viewers or Adults 18-49. And on Sunday, September 23, Jimmy Kimmel will take another turn in the spotlight when he hosts the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
The shift for “Nightline” in late night and the addition of a new “Nightline” broadcast hour in primetime, timed to utilize the Academy Awards as a promotional platform, continues the momentum of ABC News, which has enjoyed a banner year of success and growth. From a resurgent “Good Morning America;” to the groundbreaking, innovative digital deal with Yahoo that immediately catapulted ABC News to the top of digital news delivery; to the recently completed joint venture with Univision for a 24-hour culturally relevant lifestyle and news channel for U.S. Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic in the nation, ABC News has gone from strength-to-strength and success-to-success.
In commenting on the announcement, Ben Sherwood, president, ABC News stated, “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.”
Paul Lee, president, 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.”