NBC has had to endure plenty of criticism over its Olympics coverage, and the floodgates opened again after an unfortunately timed promo for a new series aired Thursday night.
According to The Hollywood Reporter: “Immediately after NBC finished its broadcast of American gymnast Gabby Douglas’ gold medal-winning performance on Thursday, the network cut to a promo spot for one of its new prime-time shows, ‘Animal Practice.’
“The promo featured the show’s star monkey, Crystal, competing on gymnastics rings — which has drawn criticism on Twitter, as broadcaster Bob Costas had just been speaking of the historical significance of Douglas becoming the first African American woman to win the event.”
The promo was also criticized in the media, the report notes, with Tod Robberson, writing in the Dallas Morning News, calling it "supremely thoughtless and undoubtedly insulting to lots of viewers."
NBC gave a statement to THR on the matter today, denying that the incident carried any racial significance.
The network said in the statement: "Gabby Douglas’ gold medal performance last night was an historic and inspiring achievement. This 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 offense was intended."
The network reportedly also explained that it chose to promote “Animal Practice,” a family-friendly show, in that spot because gymnastics, along with the swimming aired Thursday night, was expected to deliver a family audience.
As reported previously, NBC has drawn criticism for other Olympics-related blunders, often involving tape delay and revealing results before events air.