LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Jimmy Kimmel will go head to head with late-night talk show hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman when his TV program moves to the 11:35 pm time slot, sparking a fight for viewers among the three comedians.
ABC television said on Tuesday that the move from the midnight hour for "Jimmy Kimmel Live," which saw a 3 percent rise in total viewers last season, means ABC News magazine "Nightline" will shift to 12:35 a.m.
The swap will start January 8. Beginning in March, "Nightline" will get an extra hour during prime time hours on Friday evenings.
ABC said the move for Kimmel reflected higher ratings for the 44-year-old comedian, as well as increased demand from advertisers for entertainment programming late at night.
"Given the passionate fan base 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' has built over the past decade and the show's ratings and creative momentum this season, the time is right to make this move," Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, said in a statement.
Kimmel is the only late-night talk show host to increase his viewers both overall and in the 18-49 age group coveted by advertisers. His show attracts an average of 1.8 million viewers, compared with 3.7 million for Leno and 3.1 for Letterman.
In its current 11:35 pm to midnight slot, "Nightline" is beating both Leno's "Tonight" show on NBC and Letterman's "The Late Show" on CBS in total viewers, according to Nielsen data.
Kimmel will host the Primetime Emmy Awards in September for the first time, and in April he was picked to host the White House correspondents annual dinner.
ABC is a unit of the Walt Disney Co, NBC is majority-owned by Comcast Corp and CBS is part of CBS Corp.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte, Gary Hill)