While Jimmy Kimmel acknowledges that his upcoming move to the earlier (and more prestigious) 11:35 p.m. timeslot will drastically change the number of viewers awake for Jimmy Kimmel Live, he rejects the idea that the content of the ABC show should have to change with it.
“I think there’s this idea that you need to broaden the show or make it more wholesome or something like that and I think that’s a little bit out of date, that perception because we’ve become so fragmented so you can continue doing the show that you’ve been doing and have success at 11:35,” Kimmel said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “Although I could be wrong. I guess only time will tell.”
Kimmel also weighed in on the new competition he will face at 11:35, including his nemesis Jay Leno, and the pre-emptive tactic The Tonight Show is taking by starting the show a minute earlier to help boost ratings in the first months of direct competition.
“NBC has had a lot of success moving Jay Leno earlier so it makes perfect sense,” Kimmel cracked.
“To me it tells me that maybe they’re a bit concerned and I’ll be curious to see how long they’re able to keep that up. That’s a trick designed to boost their ratings in first month. This really isn’t about the first month or the first week, or the first night, it’s a long-term thing,” he continued. “What really matters is how you do in May. That’s when we’ll really know where we stand I think.”
Kimmel acknowledged that Jimmy Fallon seem to be Leno’s heir apparent, as press reports this week speculated that NBC could make the succession in 2014 when Leno’s contract expires.
“NBC is going to have to make a decision at some point. As much as he would like it to be the case, Jay Leno is not going to be able to stay on television forever,” Kimmel said. “With that said, never count Jay out. He’s like Jason in Friday the 13th. He seems to pop up, just when you think he’s dead he comes back to life and he’s got a hatchet.”Kimmel unsurprisingly had nicer words for his late-night idol David Letterman who he said “wouldn’t be as nice as to do my show” in October if he was nervous about the threat of competition to CBS’ Late Show.
Though Kimmel’s move will make it a three-way war for late-night dominance starting Jan. 8, the host doesn’t think the match-up will create the same drama going forward and the Leno-Letterman battle did in previous decades.
“I imagine in 10 years we’re going to look back and there will be 30 talk shows at 11:35 and none of this will seem very special,” he said.