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Jimmy Kimmel, late night's elder statesman, signs new ABC contract

Kimmel, who has hosted 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' since 2003, will now reportedly be on the network through 2019. Late-night rivals Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert are comparative newbies.

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    Jimmy Kimmel attends the 4th Annual Variety's Power of Comedy Event in Los Angeles in 2013.
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Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel has signed a new contract with ABC to stay on the network for three more years. 

Mr. Kimmel hosts the program "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," which debuted in 2003 and will now be on ABC at least through 2019. 

The news was revealed during ABC's "upfronts," during which networks discuss their future programming in the presence of advertisers and journalists.

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Kimmel often appears during ABC's upfronts to make jokes about the TV industry, a tradition that has made him "the king of upfront week," Adweek writer Tim Baysinger wrote Tuesday, adding "Kimmel proved this afternoon why his annual roast on ABC's upfront stage is the highlight of the week."

Since his show debuted in 2003, broadcast late-night has seen a lot of turnover, making Kimmel now the longest-serving late-night host among those who air shows around 11:30 p.m. or around 12:30 a.m. Jimmy Fallon of NBC's "The Tonight Show" took on his job in 2014, while fellow NBC host Seth Meyers began hosting "Late Show" in 2014 as well; Stephen Colbert of CBS's "Late Show" debuted on the program last year, as did "Late Late Show" host James Corden. NBC's Carson Daly, however, debuted his 1:35 a.m. TV show "Last Call With Carson Daly" in 2002. 

Where does Kimmel's show stand as it moves forward in the late-night landscape? 

In terms of viewership, Mr. Fallon normally wins the timeslot in which Fallon, Kimmel, and Mr. Colbert's show airs, but as of March, Kimmel and Colbert often battle for second place. Yet Kimmel often drew more viewers 18-49, an age group valued by advertisers, than Colbert. 

As for Kimmel's content, Los Angeles Times writer Libby Hill notes that he is sometimes able to use his connection to ABC and, through that, Disney (ABC's owner) to get guests, such as many "Star Wars" actors ahead of last year's release of "The Force Awakens," which is now the highest-grossing movie of all time without adjusting for inflation.

"Kimmel's 'Star Wars' episode is almost certainly a fortuitous byproduct of Disney owning both ABC and the 'Star Wars' franchise, meaning that Kimmel definitely had an inside track when it came to landing the stars of the series," Ms. Hill wrote. 

Meanwhile, Hollywood Reporter writer Kate Stanhope believes Kimmel's long tenure as host may provide comfort to some viewers. "ABC's 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' has been able to tout stability as CBS and NBC have both changed late-night hosts in the past several years," Ms. Stanhope wrote.

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