Since his breakout hit “Gangnam Style” debuted in July 2012, it has become the most watched video on YouTube to date, scoring over 2.1 billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) views. While this feat is staggering in itself, Google posted a nugget on YouTube’s Google+ page on Monday about this accomplishment, saying that it’s been viewed so many times they’ve been required to “upgrade” the video site’s backend. When YouTube was first designed, it was never expected for a video to exceed 2,147,483,647 views because of how the counter software was originally coded. “It’s like a car odometer,” says YouTube spokesperson Matt McLernon. “Once it rolls over the last nine, it resets.” He said the company thought 2 billion would be enough and it wasn’t.
Exactly how did Google know they were in need of an upgrade?
A few months ago, they noticed Psy’s view count would eventually hit that number and require a behind-the-scenes tweak. If they didn’t do anything, in this case, the number would’ve remained static in the counter underneath the video, but YouTube would continue to keep an accurate count of views in a separate location. Google updated the entire site’s counter software, making it so a video can now register 9 quintillion views – or a total of 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. “It’s like we went from a two-door coupe to a stretch Hummer,” McLernon says.
YouTube and Google did do something to mark the occasion: If you go to the YouTube page where “Gangnam Style” lives and put your cursor over the play count, the number spins through the view count in the way a mileage counter on a car would.
Along with being a catchy song – after all, it was still in the top five of YouTube songs streamed this past summer – Psy’s YouTube channel has bumped his other tracks into stratospheric numbers as well. Earlier this year, he released “Hangover,” a collaboration with Snoop Dogg, and it’s been viewed over 162 million times since June 8. “This is what happens when the whole world can play something at the same time,” McLernon says. “And when one video brings you to a channel, you often go and watch other videos.”
If you forgot what the original fuss was all about or just want to revel in the “Gangnam Style” glory once more, check out the video below:
This article was originally written by Mike Ayers for The Wall Street Journal.