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ABC moves up Kimmel; Nightline in jeopardy


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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

"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.

ABC News executives are breathing a sigh of relief that "Nightline" wasn't canceled outright even though the network is moving Jimmy Kimmel into its time slot

However, it is probably only a stay of execution for the venerable newsmagazine show.

In January, ABC is shifting "Nightline" from its longtime home of 11:35 p.m. to an hour later, at 12:35 a.m., so "Jimmy Kimmel Live" -- which had started at midnight -- can compete head-to-head with CBS' David Letterman and NBC's Jay Leno.While that beats getting canceled, ABC will probably want to a develop either another talk show or some sort of comedy program to follow Kimmel at 12:35. While airing "Nightline" after local news made sense, it is not an ideal lead-out for Kimmel's programming.

So why not just kill "Nightline" now?

Because then ABC would likely have to give that hour back to its affiliates, which it doesn't want to do. It's better for the network to hold on to the time slot and try to develop a new franchise than to give up on that hour entirely.

In fact, ABC is even extending "Nightline" to a full hour, in part so it doesn't have to surrender even 30 minutes to its affiliates.

While "Nightline" is profitable, moving it to a later time slot and adding another half-hour will make it harder for the show to remain a money maker. After all, there will be fewer viewers at 12:35 a.m. than there are at 11:35 p.m. That means fewer ad dollars too. Add in another half-hour of production costs and sustaining profitability is suddenly far from certain.

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