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Ellen's Oscar celeb selfie a landmark media moment

Sunday's Oscars The Most-Watched In 10 Years

AP Television Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Ellen DeGeneres' celeb-studded selfie from the most-watched Oscars telecast in a decade was a landmark social media moment at a time online conversation is boosting television viewership and vice versa.

It's also a murky example of what is or isn't product placement in a hyper-marketed world. Would the world's most retweeted photo have been shot by an iPhone if Samsung hadn't been a commercial sponsor of the Academy Awards?

An estimated 43 million people watched "12 Years a Slave" win the Oscar for best picture on Sunday night. It was the most-watched Academy Awards since 2004, when "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" was the best picture. And it was the most popular entertainment event on TV since the "Friends" finale that year. The Oscars are generally the most-watched TV event of the year after the Super Bowl.

Oscar night was also big for Jimmy Kimmel. The ABC late-night star drew just under 7 million viewers for his post-Oscars special, the biggest audience he's ever gotten on ABC, despite starting at 12:42 a.m. on the East Coast.

The ratings provide further evidence of how big event programming is a growth engine for broadcast networks, in large part because of fans watching the event and conversing with friends on tablets and smartphones. Twitter said that some 14.7 million tweets mentioning the Oscars or prominent actors and films were sent out during the Sunday night telecast, and Facebook said there were 25.4 million interactions about the show.

No social media moment was bigger than when host DeGeneres briefly caused Twitter to crash after going into the audience and asking Bradley Cooper to take a picture with several other stars crowding around. Besides Cooper and DeGenerers, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt also crowded into the frame. She asked viewers to help her set a retweet record, and they quickly complied.

By Monday afternoon, it had been retweeted some 2.8 million times, shattering the previous record of 810,000 retweets for the photo of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hugging after the 2012 election. Twitter was humming at 254,644 tweets per minute after DeGeneres' request, and the company said the crush disrupted service for 20 minutes.

DeGeneres handed a Samsung device to Cooper to take the selfie. Since the Oscars host's Twitter posts from backstage included shots from an iPhone, Samsung doesn't seem to be her usual smartphone of choice.

Samsung, however, was a big presence at the Oscars besides being a commercial sponsor. The company gave its phones to student presenters and encouraged them to tweet and post on Instagram with them. Dozens of Samsung phones, tablets and TVs were used to make a digital photo display in the backstage green room.

ABC said Samsung did not pay specifically for use of the camera in DeGeneres' selfie segment and the company wasn't explicitly named on the air as the stunt unfolded, but it is a noticeably larger device than an iPhone. Spokeswoman Nicole Marostica said once producers decided to do the segment, it made more sense to use a Samsung product because the company was an Oscars sponsor.

"They were just lucky beneficiaries of the whole thing," Marostica said.

Use of the Samsung phone "is a wonderful example of product placement," in part because it seemed so natural, said Tim Calkins, marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.

Samsung is the worldwide leader in smartphones but trails Apple in the United States, and the company has been aggressively going after the U.S. market.

Oddly, the audience snapshot wasn't a new element for DeGeneres. When she hosted the Oscars in 2007, she went into the audience and asked filmmaker Steven Spielberg to snap a picture of her with Clint Eastwood, saying she wanted to use it on Myspace.

Twitter said that most tweeted-about star on Oscar night was Jennifer Lawrence, with Brad Pitt coming in second. "Gravity" was the movie that was the subject of the most tweets during the show, followed by "Frozen."

A total of 11.3 million people commented on the award via Facebook, the company said. The busiest commenters were women aged 18 to 34, Facebook said, and the one moment that drew the most attention was when "12 Years a Slave" won the award for best picture.

Jared Leto had his TiVo moment Sunday night. The company said the clip of Leto's acting in "Dallas Buyers Club" was a moment when viewers paused their digital video recorders and rewound to see something again more than at any other point in the show.

Join the discussion

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abourge458 March 03 2014 at 8:55 PM

All those stars in the "selfie"?
Had she turned around up on stage and selfied herself there, she COULDA had HUNDREDS of stars?
Might have set a Guiness record?

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Genevieve March 03 2014 at 6:31 PM

You might mention that all of the other top programs were running repeat viewings. Ergo, there was nothing else worth seeing. I would have looked at "Good Wife, & "Mentalist". It was Ellen who made it work. As it was, I was switching back & forth to TCM.

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1 reply
jkstray Genevieve March 03 2014 at 6:43 PM

What would we do without TCM. That is an education for the real movie fans. Wish I could go on their cruise.

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Gorgeous March 03 2014 at 6:40 PM

We were iced-in, and there was nothing else to watch. Always enjoy seeing what Ellen is going to say - thought her comments about 12 Years a Slave and Liza were gutsy but true.

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Gorgeous March 03 2014 at 6:42 PM

High points were Pink and Bette Midler singing. Pink and Bette are beautiful ladies.

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1 reply
S321Saint Gorgeous March 03 2014 at 7:08 PM

The last time I saw either of them (in passing)...they both appeared excessively "full figured" like the KKK girls. Long horse faces and lots of flesh on hips and behinds...and they think a little make up will make them appear pretty?

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1 reply
apollo6713 S321Saint March 03 2014 at 7:38 PM

Wow, excessively hateful and mean. A saint you are definitely not

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scottee March 03 2014 at 6:47 PM

Jennifer Garner's dress is amazing. Bette was wonderful and beautiful. Pink's low cut dress really distracted me from the song and the film clips...and what was John Travolta's problem? Thankfully, Ellen made sure everyone heard Idina Menzel's name, twice.

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Dr. Cal Harris March 03 2014 at 6:49 PM

My gals usually have to talk pretty hard to get control of the big TV in the house for things like Oscars and that other stuff. I was very glad last night that I sat and watched with them. Kind of a feel-good feeling to everything. I haven't seen very much stuff the Ellen does but can't imaging anyone doing a better job than her in hosting. She literally kept the audience completely engaged in all of the facets of the show. No one escaped her; not even the normally stuck up stars. Everyone of the stars seemed to be having a wonderful time and interacting with each other.

Yep, I enjoyed it. Might even watch it again since the gals TIVO'ed it.

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2 replies
lawrencefishberg Dr. Cal Harris March 03 2014 at 6:55 PM

You need help.

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Dominic Dr. Cal Harris March 03 2014 at 6:55 PM

I'm sorry I missed it. I never watch the Oscars, and I think I missed out last night.

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1 reply
apollo6713 Dominic March 03 2014 at 7:27 PM

You did. It was great. Ellen kept it fast-paced and fresh.

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annrcpa March 04 2014 at 10:03 AM

The main reason I even watched was to see & hear Pink perform. She was amazing, as always.
They should create an award for her. It seems that no matter what she sings, it is wonderful. Way better than even Bette Midler, and I like Bette Midler.

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1 reply
mamatibbors annrcpa March 04 2014 at 10:16 AM

I also thought 'Pink' was one of the highlights, lovely voice..........Thought Midler was not good, am
sick of that song, and really didn't like the rendition.......Oh well................

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1 reply
brwnysbrb mamatibbors March 04 2014 at 10:28 AM

Bette Meddler was FANTASTIC! Great job on her song. She also received a standing ovation! Did you not see that? I also love Pink too! I wish she would use her voice to sing more songs like that! Also, wow she had more clothes on too. I guess there are down side's to performer's.

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bewise817 March 03 2014 at 9:41 PM

Think how much money she could have made from these idiots if she asked them to send her a dollar.

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Don March 03 2014 at 7:43 PM

After reading the pros and cons about the Oscars, I think of this old saying:

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Cesar March 03 2014 at 7:43 PM

What a great and funny show! It has been awhile since I've laugh this much watching the Oscars. Ellen did a great job, who cares what the boring critics said. Bring on the pizza and lets take some pics!!!! I hope she does it again next year.

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