FORTUNE -- The photo had everything. Lights. Action. That sparkle of spontaneity. And subjects who really know how to smile for a camera.
But the moment that turned into the world's most-retweeted post -- 3.1 million and counting -- wasn't 100% spontaneous. Rather, it was the fortuitous product of a carefully planned multimillion-dollar business arrangement that served the mutual interests of a Korean smartphone manufacturer, a social media powerhouse, a U.S. television network with a temporary global reach of 43 million viewers, and the biggest stars in Hollywood, for whom TV face-time is money.
Among the deal's moving parts:
And that spontaneous moment? SlashGear's Chris Burns transcribed the opening dialogue between host Ellen DeGeneres and best-actress nominee Meryl Streep:
DeGeneres: Meryl, here's my idea, ok, so you were nominated -- it's a record-breaking 18 times, right? So I thought we would try to break another record right now with the most re-tweets of a photo. So right now I'm going to take a picture of us, and we'll see if we can break the record for the most retweets -
Streep: Get her in -- *points to Julia Roberts*
What followed, for what it's worth, made Twitter history. "It was a great plug for the Samsung brand," WPP branding expert Allen Adamson told the Journal. "Ellen's selfie is going to be more impactful than their commercials. You can't buy that magic of going viral."
Lest anyone be left with the impression that the photo was less than spontaneous, Samsung ponied up another $3 million and issued the following statement:
"While we were a sponsor of the Oscars and had an integration with ABC, we were delighted to see Ellen organically incorporate the device into the selfie moment that had everyone talking. A great surprise for everyone, she captured something that nobody expected. In honor of this epic moment and of course, the incredible response of nearly 3 million re tweets, we wanted to make a donation to Ellen's charities of choice: St Jude's and the Humane Society [of the United States]. Samsung will donate 1.5 million dollars to each charity."
IRONIC FOOTNOTE -- AND GRATUITOUS APPLE (AAPL) ANGLE: The millions Samsung paid ABC goes into the coffers of the Walt Disney Co. (DIS), whose largest shareholder is Laurene Powell Jobs. Steve Jobs' widow is one of richest women in the world -- No. 73 on this week's list of billionaires -- on the strength of the Disney shares she inherited from Samsung's arch enemy in the smartphone wars.
As rumors of a "real" Apple TV heat up, ideas that could upend the industry resurface
In late 2009, the Wall Street Journal ran a story that sent shivers through the television industry.
Quoting unnamed sources familiar with Apple's (AAPL) negotiations, the Journal reported that CBS (CBS) and ABC (DIS) were seriously considering Steve Jobs' plan to offer TV subscriptions over the Internet.
One form those subscriptions might take, according to these sources, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 28, 2011 4:23 PM ET
It appears that the networks are letting some content through to GoogleTV users.
Yesterday, GoogleTV users were greeted with messages that ABC, CBS and NBC would not work. This morning however, I had a look around and was able to watch an episode of 30 Rock on NBC as well as a few minutes of Talk (my threshold, not GoogleTV) and Medium on CBS. Disney-owned ABC and Hulu are still blocked, MORESeth Weintraub - Oct 22, 2010 9:26 AM ET
Every day, the Fortune staff spends hours poring over tech stories, posts, and reviews from all over the Web to keep tabs on the companies that matter. We've assembled the day's most newsworthy bits below.
ABC, CBS and NBC are blocking TV programming on their web sites from being viewable on the newly-launched Google TV. (IT World)
HP is finally releasing a tablet, the Windows 7-loaded HP Slate MORE
This is the spot for our live coverage of Apple's (AAPL) Sept. 1 music event.
In sum, Steve Jobs delivered on most of the rumored new products and services. The headlines:
A new $99 Apple TV that streams (rather than downloads) $4.99 movie rentals and 99-cent TV rentals from ABC and Fox.
A new lineup of iPods, chief among them the iPod touch equipped with two cameras, one a front-facing camera that can MORE
Steve Jobs is not the TV networks' enemy. BitTorrent is.
The second episode of The Big C, Showtime's bittersweet hit comedy about a suburban mom with melanoma, aired Monday night at 10:30 p.m. Less than three hours later, a digital copy was posted on an Italian website, where it spread like crabgrass. By Wednesday morning, there were 3,387 "seeds" of The Big C, Season 01, Episode 02, on the Internet, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 25, 2010 10:46 AM ET
Rather than a "best of TV" subscription service, Apple will be streaming programs a la carte
[UPDATE: The event is actually scheduled for Sept. 1. See here.]
Fuzzy rumors about Steve Jobs' next move in the TV market have been swirling for the better part of a year, but the picture snapped into focus on Tuesday.
A report by Peter Burrows, a veteran BusinessWeek reporter now writing for Bloomberg Businessweek, lays out the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 24, 2010 6:28 PM ET
A report tonight says that Google hasn't convinced any of the bigger network executives to sign up for their new service, set to debut in the coming months.
One of the three areas which Google (GOOG) sees significant expansion over the next few years is in the $70 billion/year U.S. television advertising market. With its GoogleTV product, it now has the platform to sell content against advertising. But can it get top MORESeth Weintraub - Aug 18, 2010 12:22 AM ET
The video streaming service's new premium model lacks the chops to justify its monthly fees.
As a writer and hopeless Internet addict, I probably spend more time in front of my laptop than I'd like to admit, banging out articles, reading blogs, instant messaging co-workers and friends, and viewing media. Whereas the average American now spends an estimated 34 hours a week in front of the television, it's fair to say MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jul 14, 2010 1:45 PM ET
This is one in a series of articles leading up to Fortune Brainstorm Tech, which takes place July 22-24 in Aspen, Colo. The articles will look back at the progress of companies that presented at Brainstorm in 2009 as well as look forward to those that will present this year.
By Shelley DuBois, reporter
Dropping a plot twist like a time traveling island to millions of obsessed viewers MOREJun 11, 2010 10:20 AM ET
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