Most other similar shows only air once a week, though usually in a prime time slot for a full hour.
Nightline is usually less sensationalistic than the weekly news magazines (which often emphasize soft news programming, stories of such type – such as pop culture-related stories – Nightline has incorporated to a moderate degree following Koppel's departure), though the program has caused controversy on occasion. In 1984, the program featured an interview with Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, marking his first live television appearance.
That year, Nightline broadcast for the first time in the Soviet Union.
Segments from Nightline are shown in a condensed form on ABC's overnight news program World News Now.
There is also a version of Nightline for sister cable channel Fusion.
Many candidates for government offices, such as David Duke (in November 1991) have appeared on Nightline to try to promote themselves.
Seeing that there are a large number of prisons in the United States, it created an ongoing series in 1994 called "Crime and Punishment".
The program had its beginnings on November 8, 1979, just four days after the start of the Iran hostage crisis.
ABC News president Roone Arledge felt that the best way to compete against NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was to update Americans on the latest news from Iran. Originally, World News Tonight lead anchor Frank Reynolds hosted the 20-minute-long special reports.
For much of its history, the program prided itself on providing a mix of investigative journalism and extended interviews (something that continues to be featured to this day, albeit at a reduced extent), which would look out of place on World News Tonight.
The format of the show featured an introduction by the host, then a taped piece on the specific topic of the night; then after a commercial break, there was a live interview related to the topic of the piece.
In 1983, ABC attempted to change the program's format to feature multiple topics and expand it to one hour, as opposed to focusing on a single topic in a half-hour.
This switch proved to be unsuccessful, and after a few months, the original format of the program was restored.
In 1986, the program featured interviews with the Philippines' first female president, Corazon Aquino, and outgoing president Ferdinand Marcos, the latter of which tried to defend the extravagant lifestyle (including the extensive shoe collection) of his wife Imelda during the country's economic hardship.