Tuned In

Kimmel vs. O'Brien?

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Here we go again. The New York Times is reporting that ABC has considered the idea of moving Jimmy Kimmel into Nightline’s 11:35 p.m. slot to compete against Conan O’Brien, when Conan assumes Tonight from Jay Leno (and Jay Leno assumes 1/3 of primetime from the NBC entertainment division). 

So far, the scuttlebutt—knocked down by ABC—does not seem to be generating the hue and cry it did when ABC considered whacking Nightline in 2002 to give the time slot to David Letterman. Of course, then Nightline was hosted by [cue choir of angels] Ted Koppel.

I kid—I love Koppel—but the righteous indignation was overdone, and I’ll say again what I did then. If ABC is betraying journalism by considering getting rid of a late-night news show that it’s aired for 30 years, then CBS and NBC are utter traitors to civilization since they never had late-night news shows in the first place. So let’s string them up first. 

The reason moving Kimmel is likely a bad idea is simpler: he does well where he is now, and so does Nightline. In an already oversaturated late-night-host market, Nightline is effective counterprogramming.

I suppose ABC smells weakness in the O’Brien move, and the allure of a flagship 11:35 late-night show is always tempting. But hard as it may be for ABC to accept, maybe it should consider the possibility that it’s already doing something right.