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Too many views! Gangnam Style breaks YouTube’s counter

Believe it or not, people around the world are still watching Gangnam Style, that supremely silly yet insanely catchy ditty by South Korean pop star PSY.

In fact, so many people have been hitting YouTube to check out the site’s most watched video that they’ve gone and broken the view counter.

The technology powering YouTube’s counter meant that it could only handle a maximum figure of just over 2.1 billion. Although a simple solution would’ve been to simply replace the digits with the word “lots,” or “too many” or even “why are you still watching this?”, the YouTube team instead decided to get the toolkit out and have a tinker.

It explained the consequences of Gangnam Style’s ludicrous popularity in a Google+ post on Thursday:

“We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. Gangnam Style has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade to a 64-bit integer (9,223,372,036,854,775,808)!”

That’s all well and good, but when the video hits 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 views, they’re only going to have to go through all this again.

Uploaded in July 2012, Gangnam Style notched up its first billion views 159 days later. After hitting 2 billion back in June of this year, PSY described the figure as “very honorable and very burdensome,” and promised “more joyful contents” in the future, a statement likely to have you screaming “pleeeeeeease nooooooooo,” or, if you’re of the opposite disposition, breaking into the horse dance in gleeful anticipation of his next work.

While it’s hard to know precisely how much ad revenue the video has generated for PSY and his team, it’s certain to be in the millions of dollars. Just prior to hitting a billion views in December 2012, video marketing firm TubeMogul calculated that Gangnam Style had generated $870,000 from YouTube ads alone. And with music downloads, streams, CD sales, merchandise and TV ads, that figure will of course go way, way higher.

At the time of writing, Gangnam Style’s YouTube view count stands at 2,157,804,005.

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