Skip to main content

Jimmy Kimmel Gets Candid About Late Night Host Competition Being ‘Friendlier’ And Other Things That Have Changed Over The Years

Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel has been working as a late night host for quite a while now since Jimmy Kimmel Live! premiered back in early 2003. He has pretty much seen it all over the years, for better or worse. There are plenty of late night hosts on television besides Kimmel, including Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. And Kimmel is opening up about the late night host competition as well as how things have changed.

The late night talk show host was the latest guest, or “victim,” on the popular YouTube series Hot Ones. While eating wings with Señor Lechuga Hot Sauce, Jimmy Kimmel was asked how he thinks celebrities doing press has changed the most between 2003 when he first started and now:

For me, I know a lot of things have changed. I used to have terrible guests for the most part. I wouldn’t even get Joe Millionaire; I’d get like the girl he rejected fourth on the show. It’s a little bit competitive with the other shows because you want to get these guests first. But we’ve worked out such an arrangement now that it’s like, ‘Alright you get Jennifer Aniston first this time, next time, whoever it is.’ I think it’s a friendlier environment than maybe it used to be. I think part of that’s because most people don’t watch our shows at 11:35. They watch them online whenever they feel like it. So you don’t have to really choose between shows. You can watch all of them.

It's a sign of how far back Jimmy Kimmel goes in late night television that he mentioned Joe Millionaire, which premiered back in January 2003, just a few weeks before Jimmy Kimmel Live! did. He and his show have come a long way from fourth-tier competitors on dating series, and he can be counted among the biggest names in late night television. When he started out, the late night airwaves were dominated by David Letterman on CBS and Jay Leno on NBC. 2021 is a different time and, as Kimmel noted, some viewers get their late night content during the day thanks to online viewing options.

And as a veteran of the industry, Jimmy Kimmel is well aware that working as the host of a long-running late night talk show isn't always easy, and Kimmel has had to juggle personal struggles with the demands of his job over the years. He has taken the occasional break, however, which most recently involved celebrities stepping in as guest hosts. Who could have imagined back in 2003 that Jimmy Kimmel Live would grow so much and occupy a space in such a different late night landscape in less than two decades?

As the world is changing, so are celebrities and the ways that viewers consume their media. With Jimmy Kimmel Live! sharing the late night airwaves with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and The Late Late Show with James Corden, there are more options than there are hours at night. Thanks to YouTube and other streaming options, there's time for them all. Hopefully the late night host competition stays this way, as a friendly environment, because it makes watching all the better.

Megan Behnke

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.