ABC's Jimmy Kimmel is about to get a promotion — to 11:35 p.m.
Following a flurry of rumors, the network confirmed Tuesday that it will move "Jimmy Kimmel Live" earlier by one half-hour, to 11:35, starting Jan. 8.
That will put it in direct competition with NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" for a three-way ratings brawl.
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So what does all this mean for the networks? The Times will host a Google+ Hangout with reporters Joe Flint and Meredith Blake to discuss the announcement and its implications at noon Pacific time today.
"Nightline"— the storied late-night news program that has survived attempts to demote or kill it for years — will start at 12:35 a.m. and also, starting March 1, get a new prime time Friday newsmagazine.
The timing of the move may seem odd, given that Kimmel's hosting of the Emmy Awards next month would have given ABC a natural promotional platform for the switch.
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However, ABC executives felt that a making a change during the busy presidential election season — when stations rake in huge amounts from political ads — would have been disruptive. Instead, the network will use Ryan Seacrest's New Years program as well as "Dancing With the Stars" and the Bowl Championship Series on sister network ESPN to tell viewers about the switch.
Kimmel has seen ratings improvement in recent months, while Leno in particular has experienced a slump after NBC made a disastrous experiment with Conan O'Brien in the "Tonight" slot. "Tonight" last week laid off some staffers and Leno took a pay cut to prevent further departures.
"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," Anne Sweeney, cochair of Disney Media Neworks and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, wrote in a statement.
What do you think of Kimmel and the switch?
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Follow Scott Collins on Twitter @scottcollinsLAT.
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