ABC, which has been more aggressive than some of its rivals in ceding entertainment slots to news during the coronavirus pandemic, said it would restore “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to its regular 11:35 p.m. start time. And yet, the network said “Jimmy Kimmel Live” would, for the time being, last just 30 minutes, with the second half of its time slot going to “Nightline,” which has focused its stories on the life during the contagion.
ABC said it would then present an encore of the Kimmel show that aired earlier at 12:35 a.m. “Nightline” has been airing at 11:35 p.m. since mid-March.
The moves show ABC continuing to rework the algebra of late-night in an unusual era. Executives at the network have tried to make sure viewers get breaking information about coronavirus several times a day. At the same time, Kimmel’s late-night show likely generates more advertising dollars from a wider array of sponsors than “Nightline,” which tends to appeal to pharmaceutical brands and other marketers who gravitate to news audiences.
The half-hour format would take some burden off Kimmel, who, like the nation’s other late-night hosts, has to work while sheltering at home, without many of the usual trappings of late-night TV. Like his rivals Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, Kimmel is working without an in-studio audience, musicians and lights. Many of the coronavirus-era late-night programs have the feel of video podcast, with the hosts working to entertain viewers with one-one-one video interviews and an array of jokes that don’t come with the instant feedback to which fans have become accustomed.
Kimmel has been airing at 11:35 since 2013, when ABC moved his program to the earlier time slot.