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Kimmel wins demo race for week in new timeslot

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.”