Leno still dominant in total viewers after 'JKL' shifts to midnight

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” had an impressive first week in its new 11:35 p.m. timeslot, attracting its biggest audience in the show’s history since launching in 2003.

In its four-day timeslot premiere week (Jan. 8-11), “JKL” averaged 3.01 million viewers and had its best performance in nine years in the 18-49 demo. In fact, “JKL” narrowly defeated new 11:35 p.m. rival “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” in the demo, with “Late Show With David Letterman” a distant third.

However, “The Tonight Show” was best in the demo in the three of the four days (except Jan. 10) in its head-to-head battle with “JKL.”

For total viewers, Leno averaged 3.5 million, defeating 3.1 million for Letterman and just over 3 million for Kimmel.

The shift to 11:35 p.m. for “JKL” means “Nightline” is now at midnight, a move that ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee said will pay dividends.

“We felt Jimmy was on a roll, and we’ve had an ambition to go for a younger audience. He brings that,” says Paul Lee, president of the ABC Entertainment Group. “We felt it was the right time to bring those advertising dollars to 11:35.”

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