ABC is moving Kimmel opposite Leno, Letterman; uncertainty at Utah's KTVX-Ch. 4
Published: August 21, 2012 11:44AM
Updated: August 21, 2012 11:46AM
This July 25, 2012 photo released by ABC shows Jimmy Kimmel hosting his late night show "Jimmy Kimmel Live," in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. ABC says it's moving "Jimmy Kimmel Live" into the thick of the late-night fight against Jay Leno and David Letterman. Starting in January, Kimmel's talk show will take over the 11:35 p.m. time slot long held by the news magazine "Nightline," ABC said Tuesday, Aug. 21. (AP Photo/ABC, Richard Cartwright)

Jimmy Kimmel is going to go head-to-head with the big boys - David Letterman and Jay Leno.

ABC has announced a big a shift in its late-night programming. Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 8, the network will shift "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to weeknights at 11:35 p.m. Eastern and Pacific/10:35 p.m. Central and Mountain.

The ABC News show "Nightline" will trade places with Kimmel and begin airing nationally at 12:35 a.m. Eastern and Pacific/11:35 p.m. Central and Mountain.

(The network tossed a bone to the news division, announcing that an hourlong, primetime edition of "Nightline" will air Fridays at 8 p.m. MT beginning March 1, 2013.)

What, exactly, the late-night shift will mean for Utah viewers is uncertain because local ABC affiliate KTVX-Ch. 4 has never aired "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in pattern. Instead, it currently airs "Nightline" at 10:35 p.m., followed by syndicated tabloid shows "Access Hollywood" at 11:05 p.m. and "Extra" at 11:35 p.m. "JKL" isn't seen in Utah until 12:05 a.m.

There was no immediate comment from KTVX, but the station has contracts with the syndicators that may complicate pushing the hourlong "JKL" up to 10:35 p.m.

ABC, meanwhile, is taking a big risk. But one that network management insists has a big upside.

"It's a huge move," Disney/ABC president Anne Sweeney told The New York Times. "This is Jimmy's moment. It's a culmination for him. We are looking at a landscape with two entrenched guys who are starting to fade. Their audiences are diminishing and Jimmy, who has now been on 10 years, is continuing to grow."

Them's fightin' words. The late-night wars are about to heat up once again.