'Gangnam Style' busts YouTube's view counter? Not so fast

Reports this week said Korean pop sensation's popular video topped out YouTube's view counter, forcing Google to work on an upgrade. But Google now admits the whole thing was a joke.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Psy in "Gangnam Style"
Psy blew up YouTube's video counter. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Editor's note, 12:52 p.m. PT, December 5: This post has been updated to indicate Google's admission that its broken-counter Google+ post was a joke.

Apparently, Korean pop star Psy's "Gangnam Style" is the horrendously catchy music video that just keeps on giving. It also just keeps on racking up video views on YouTube, thanks to its combination of an earworm tune, bizarre dance moves, horses, drop-crotch pants and disco balls. Earlier this week, Google said the tally had soared so high that it maxed out the video counter. Turns out, that wasn't true.

Here's what YouTube said in the form of a Google+ post on Monday: "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 have to upgrade!" The post then suggests viewers hover over the counter to see "a little math magic."

But on Friday, Google admitted the whole broken-counter thing was a joke. "Yep - it was always a joke," Matt McLernon, communications manager at YouTube, told CNET. When contacted with questions about the counter Wednesday, Google did not say it was a joke, instead referring us to the Google+ post.

Though the Google+ YouTube post may have been a joke, it seems the fast-climbing "Gangnam Style" view count may have prompted Google to upgrade the capabilities of the counters. The Wall Street Journal reported that McLernon noted how the company expected 2 billion views to be enough when the counters were originally built. According to YouTube, the counters are now capable of reaching 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 views.

And now, if you're still in the mood, feel free to once again bask in the glory that is "Gangnam Style":