Tim Allen Talks Life at ‘Cheaper,’ ‘Leaner’ ABC

“Sometimes leaner is better. In this case it’s not,” he jokes

Tim Allen says he's returning to a "cheaper," "leaner" ABC than the one he left behind when "Home Improvement" went off the air.

Asked how the network has changed during a panel discussion about his new sitcom, "Last Man Standing" Allen noted that all broadcast stations have lost audiences as cable and online programming have gained ground. He spoke on Monday on the last day of the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

Noting the 8.5-ounce soft drinks ABC provided for reporters (thanks!), he joked, "Look at the size of the Cokes. "Remember the 12-ounce bottle?"

"It's a tighter leadership at ABC," Allen said. "At 'Home Improvement' at one point we were doing 28 share, and sometimes you get up into 30 share. It coordinated into like 30 million viewers. We could tell the president what to do at that time. We could call him up… just to mess with him: 'We don't like you.' And hang up. But they'd answer.

"Everything is, I don't want to say cheaper, but I just did," he continued. "There's less revenue, there's less of everything so you've got to do better with less."

His closer made the room erupt in laughter: "Sometimes leaner is better. In this case it's not." 

"Home Improvement" ran on ABC from 1991 to 1999. His new show will create a man-centric Tuesday night ABC comedy block with another new sitcom, "Man Up."