The gymnastics-themed ad for the upcoming NBC comedy "Animal Practice" was specifically timed to run late Thursday night following the women's gold medal competition. NBC said it was scheduled to run before the network knew about Costas' commentary.
"Much of America has fallen in love with Gabby Douglas," Costas said. "Also safe to say that there are some young African-American girls out there who tonight are saying to themselves, 'Hey, I'd like to try that, too.'"
Then NBC switched to the commercial with the small, widely grinning monkey on the rings. Blacks in the past have been disparagingly referred to as monkeys to the point where it is considered a common slur.
"Gabby Douglas' gold medal performance last night was an historic and inspiring achievement," said NBC Universal spokeswoman Liz Fischer. "The spot promoting 'Animal Practice,' which has run three times previously, is one in a series with an Olympic theme which have been scheduled for maximum exposure. Certainly no offence was intended."
It's the second time during the Olympics that a promotional ad has proven troublesome for NBC. It ran a "Today" show promo showing swimmer Missy Franklin holding her first gold medal a few minutes before airing the race where she won it.
RATINGS: Ratings continue very strong for NBC. Thursday night's prime-time telecast, featuring Douglas' win and a gold medal swim by Michael Phelps, was seen by 36.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That's 7 million more than the corresponding night four years ago in Beijing. NBC also said that five Olympic events have been streamed online by at least 1 million people. The top event, streamed 1.46 million times, was the U.S. women's gymnastics team winning the gold medal Tuesday, followed by Phelps' gold medal swim over Ryan Lochte.
BRANDI TIME: Been a rough Olympics for soccer analyst Brandi Chastain, what with Hope Solo trashing her on Twitter. Let's give Chastain some credit for prescience. Coming out of halftime of the U.S. team's 2-0 win over New Zealand on Friday, she preached patience for the U.S. team, noting the Americans had squandered scoring opportunities by rushing things near the opposition goal. Within three minutes, American Alex Morgan did precisely what Chastain had been pointing out, hurrying a shot that went wide right.
WEATHER: Jim Cantore is taking some time off from The Weather Channel to provide London forecasts as part of Olympic coverage (his network is owned by NBC Universal). Friday was beautiful, but Cantore suggested the good weather was short-lived. "It's going to get a little ugly and it can certainly impact the track and field events," he said.
PLAY THE GAME: Beach volleyball analyst Kevin Wong didn't take it easy on American defending gold medal winners Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhousser during their upset loss to Italy on Friday, criticizing them for having "no energy, no emotion." After one missed shot, he said, "Phil stops playing. Get in there and play the game."
UPCOMING: After dominating Nigeria in its most recent game, the U.S. men's basketball team takes on Lithuania on Saturday.