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  • 2/11/2013
    Late night just got a little more crowded in 2013. Jimmy Kimmel and his blossoming talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! bumped the ever-present Nightline to claim the coveted 11:30 p.m. time slot. So what’s the big deal? The show is only moving up one half-hour. But look at who he is now head-to-head with every night competing for engaged eyes – Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and the dynamic duo over at Comedy Central, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

    I happen to like Jimmy Kimmel and so do a lot of people in the 18-49 age demographic. But can the time slot attract and hold onto more viewers? What does this mean for ad spend spread across the major networks and basic cable? From a media buying perspective, inventory is available now to reach this new demographic where it didn’t exist before.

    The entire late night spectacle intrigues me and so I did some research to see what it was like during a simpler time when there was one King of Late Night.

    Herrrrrre’s Johnny!

    Johnny Carson ruled late night ratings with NBC’s The Tonight Show from 1962 – 1992. Here are some facts:
    • He performed for 90 minutes per night, four nights per week, 37 weeks per year.
    • Reached between 14-17 million people per night between 1975 and 1977.
    • A 60-second commercial (twice as long as current standard TV commercials) cost approximately $39,000 in 1977 or about $150,000 in 2013 dollars. That’s a premium of almost 27% over the average 2011 prime-time program.

    Basically, Johnny ruled late night and the advertising dollars associated with it. He was the main event with very few competitors during his 30-year run. To give some perspective, he made NBC close to $60 million in 1978, which equates to just over $233 million today. In comparison, Jay Leno brought NBC about $124 million in 2012 as the current host of The Tonight Show. Carson was a media juggernaut ruling a major broadcast network with one time slot.

    So What? Big Deal

    If you’re still asking yourself that question, think about when Jay Leno moved to 10 p.m. to start his own show. Theoretically, there were more viewers at 10 p.m., but it didn’t resonate with the public and was an unmitigated disaster for sponsors. So a move like Kimmel’s is being closely monitored.

    Time slots mean a lot, for programming and advertisers alike. Television programming is built around traditional day parts and sponsors place commercials to match. To prove this theory, stay up late and see what kind of commercials are on at 3:17 a.m. as opposed to the prime-time timeslot. You will undoubtedly learn more about local pawn shops and miracle cures post-midnight than before.

    We all know that it’s impossible to replicate Carson’s grasp on the advertising purse strings because the landscape has changed. Jimmy Kimmel’s move to 11:30 p.m. means more competition for client ad dollars. Any advertising spend level needs to deliver a great call to action to bring results. If you buy the media for your business, do your homework on media options, convey your message succinctly, place it front of the right audience and call it a night.

    About the author::
    J.P. Krainz is an account manager and media manager at thunder::tech and when he’s not creating spreadsheets of spreadsheets, he enjoys playing the drums, participating in rec. league sports and cruising through Cleveland on his motorcycle.
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