Kimmel: There is no king of late night any more
Posted January 13, 2013
Jimmy Kimmel Live is off to a solid start in its first week in a new time slot, 25 minutes earlier at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT.
Thursday, his third night at the new time, he averaged 3.2 million viewers, scoring his biggest total this week and besting rivals David Letterman and Jay Leno among young-adult viewers. He was helped greatly by a record audience for ABC's 10 p.m. drama Scandal, which dominated the final hour of prime time, but among all viewers still remained behind NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
ABC research shows late-night viewers are now less loyal to a single show, and can be more easily persuaded to switch based on guests and whether they're already tuned to the channel. But Kimmel brushes off the notion he'll dethrone his idol Letterman or his nemesis Leno.
"People like the drama of late night, and who's going to be the king of late night," he told critics visiting his Hollywood studio Friday. "The truth is Johnny Carson retired with the crown. There is no king of late night anymore; there's a bunch of shows that split up a very small part of the audience pie. That's the reality of it. "People do treat it like a sporting event, but it isn't that."
Asked by USA TODAY to predict his performance, he set the bar low: "I think that ultimately we'll wind up being the No. 3 talk show," even among adults ages 18 to 49, a group that's "all that seems to matter to the network" because of ad sales. " I mean, these are shows that have been on a long time," he says. "You really can't discount the legacy that the Tonight Show has, and how ingrained in Americans and their habits. No. 3 is fine with me; we were No. 1 last night, but don't get used to it."
One chance for another win: Kimmel announced his mock frenemy Matt Damon, famously "bumped" from a long history of supposedly planned appearances, will finally sit on the couch Jan. 24. Will that spark another viral video? Don't bet against it. "We have a long history; it's an unpleasant history," Kimmel says.
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