Jay Leno had the last laugh on Jimmy Kimmel's first night in his new 11:35 p.m. timeslot: Though Kimmel initially appeared to have scored the most viewers Tuesday, that distinction ultimately went to "The Tonight Show."
"Jimmy Kimmel Live" had 3.097 viewers compared to 3.274 million for Leno. Kimmel did beat his late-night hero, David Letterman. "The Late Show" had 2.882 million viewers.
Leno also won in two key demographics: the 18-49 age group most important to advertisers, and the 25-54 group usually used to measure news and late-night shows.
In 18-49, Leno had a .9 rating. Kimmel had a .7, and Letterman a .5.
In 25-54, Leno had a 1.2, Kimmel a 1.0, and Letterman a .9.
Kimmel did, however, have his second most-watched telecast to date.
Preliminary Nielsen numbers initially showed Kimmel beating Leno and Letterman.
One early measurement, Nielsen's local people meter averages for adults 18-49, found that "Jimmy Kimmel Live" had a .99 rating compared to a 0.78 rating for "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and a 0.63 rating for "The Late Show With David Letterman."
In meterered market household ratings, Kimmel had a 2.85 rating and 8 share. Letterman had a 2.68/7, and Leno had a 2.41/6.
Kimmel benefitted from curiousity about how he would fare earlier, just as Conan O'Brien did when he moved to the "Tonight Show." Kimmel was moving up from his long-standing 12:05 timeslot, and has drawn attention for steady criticisms of Leno.