ABC rooting for ‘Home’ team with unusual promo

“Home Free,” the new ABC sitcom from Universal TV, is looking to an unusual source for promotional help — namely, its lead-out, the high-rated Disney comedy “Home Improvement.”

Promos began airing over the weekend and will continue during tonight’s Oscarcast touting the premiere of “Home Free” this Wednesday, shot on the “Home Improvement” set and featuring that show’s star, Tim Allen, with “Free’s” Matthew Perry.

“Home Free” exec producer Tim O’Donnell said he approached “Improvement” counterpart Matt Williams with the idea, suggesting that it could only benefit the high-rated ABC comedy if its lead-in performs well. “The Wonder Years” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.” (which “Home Free” replaces) have generally drawn shares in the high teens this season, with “Improvement” then jumping to a 30 share or better, especially in the last few weeks.

The ABC promos follow a period in which networks have resorted to more novel blurbs. NBC, for example, also used “Home Improvement” in promos for “Homicide: Life on the Street,” telling viewers they could find the show by tuning in the ABC sitcom and then switching to NBC. NBC also plugged “Mad About You’s” move to Saturday by having the show’s stars appear saying they “got our butts kicked” on Wednesday opposite ABC’s “Coach.”

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