Jimmy Kimmel beats David Letterman in first night head-to-head

Jimmy Kimmel attends TV Guide Magazine's 2012 Hot List Party in West Hollywood, Calif., on Nov. 12, 2012. Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

"Jimmy Kimmel Live" got a warm welcome on its first night airing 30 minutes earlier.

Kimmel's ABC show went head-to-head Tuesday for the first time against CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" and NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno." According to Nielsen fast national ratings, Kimmel edged out Letterman and ran slightly behind Leno in total viewers.

Tuesday's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" was seen by roughly 3 million viewers, only 177,000 fewer than the audience for the "Tonight Show." It beat "Late Show" by 115,000 viewers.

"Jimmy Kimmel Live" scored its second-largest audience ever while exceeding the average audience in its previous berth by 59 percent.

The late-night show previously aired at 12 a.m. ET, after "Nightline." It now airs for an hour beginning at 11:35 a.m., followed by "Nightline."

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