When the dust settled, Kimmel clocked 2.86 million viewers, Letterman’s 3.04 million, and Leno a winning 3.55 million, according to Nielsen.
His second night crowd was about 200,000 smaller than his first night. On the bright side, he picked up about 200,000 more viewers between the age of 18 and 49 years – the preferred audience of advertisers.
Even so, he continued to trail Leno in the key demographic group — though by a paper-thin margin of 6,000 viewers. For the second night in a row, Kimmel handily beat his idol Letterman in the age bracket.
ABC also noted Kimmel’s doing better in the earlier slot than he had been doing this season when “Jimmy Kimmel Live” started at midnight. On his second night, Kimmel was nearly 1 million ahead of of the game — about 416,000 of those viewers fell into the key age group.
“There’s no question Jimmy has come out strong and shown he’s really going to be competitive,” ABC programming chief Paul Lee said Thursday at Winter TV Press Tour 2013.