Gangnam Style was so big it galloped beyond YouTube counter

YouTube said the 2012 song by  Psy this week reached the maximum number of views that its counter had imagined to be conceivable. -- PHOTO: AFP
YouTube said the 2012 song by  Psy this week reached the maximum number of views that its counter had imagined to be conceivable. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK - Just how big a hit was Gangnam Style?

So mammoth it was that the Internet literally was not ready to handle it.

YouTube said that the 2012 song by South Korea's Psy - accompanied by a horse-riding-like dance that became a global sensation - this week reached the maximum number of views that its counter had imagined to be conceivable.

The video-sharing site shows that the official version of the video has had more than 2.15 billion views - the equivalent of one-third of the world's population, although of course many people watched more than once.

The problem: YouTube designed its counter with what is known in computer science as a 32-bit integer, meaning that the maximum number of countable views was 2,147,483,647.

"We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer," YouTube, which is owned by search engine giant Google, said in a posting on Google+.

YouTube engineers anticipated the problem and upgraded to a 64-bit integer.

That means that Gangnam Style or future mega-hit videos can now go beyond nine sextillion views - a feat that, at least according to conventional wisdom, would be impossible to break.