Kimmel vs. Leno vs. Letterman, Who Ya Got?

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With yesterday’s announcement that Jimmy Kimmel Live! would move to 11:35pm beginning on January 8, he’ll for the first time go head to head with Letterman’s Late Show and Leno’s Tonight Show in exactly the same time period. Nightline will move its start time to 12:35pm, and get a 9pm Friday primetime hour as “consolation”.

It’s being painted as a bold move by ABC, but my guess is that, like everything, it’s driven by the economics. It’s very likely that Kimmel’s show costs more than Nightline does, perhaps substantially more, and it doesn’t make a lot of economic sense to put the more expensive show on later after the cheaper one. ABC has probably taken as long as it has to make the move because of the reported clout (or complaining, depending on who you read) that ABC News wielded to keep Nightline at 11:35.

But now that three broadcast networks (not to mention several competing cable shows that begin at 11) will all have comparably slotted talk shows at 11:35, who’ll come out on top of the adults 18-49 ratings?

Here’s some data for your handicapping pleasure:

2011-12 broadcast season to date (Sept-May):

  • Tonight Show 0.9 adults 18-49 rating
  • Late Show 0.8 adults 18-49 rating
  • Nightline 0.9 adults 18-49 rating
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live 0.5 adults 18-49 rating

May, 2012 sweeps period:

  • Tonight Show 0.8 adults 18-49 rating
  • Late Show 0.7 adults 18-49 rating
  • Nightline 0.9 adults 18-49 rating
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live 0.5 adults 18-49 rating

If you’d like to make things apples to apples, make your guess the ratings winner for the May, 2013 sweeps, since full season comparisons will be goofy.

Who ya’ got?

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