"Jimmy Kimmel Live" will get an earlier start time beginning Feb. 4, 2011, reports our friend Bill Carter in The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog.
According to the article, ABC "had promised Mr. Kimmel for some time that the move would be made in lieu of a previous promise–eventually broken–that he would dislodge ‘Nightline,’ ABC’s 11:35 p.m. entry, at some point in the future. The decision on Thursday locks in ‘Nightline’ as the 11:35 program, though shortened by five minutes each night, while giving ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ an almost certain boost in his ratings with the earlier time."
The article also notes that though the start time for the "Kimmel" show has officially been 12:05 a..m, it has rarely started before 12:07 and often starts as late as 12:10. "That makes a significant difference in the ratings because with each minute in late night, shows tend to lose viewers because they go to bed," Carter writes.
He adds that in exchange for giving up five minutes of airtime, "Nightline" will add 13 hours of prime-time specials this year.