For those that aren’t developers, the simplest explanation is that YouTube was using a 32-bit integer to store the view count data, which can store numbers up to 2,147,483,647. However, since Gangnam Style was nearing that limit (right now it has over 2,164,212,796 views) they decided to switch to 64-bit integer. With the 64-bit integer upgrade, view counts can now go up to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 (9 quintillion). Since that’s more than a billion times earth’s population, I think it’s safe to say that YouTube won’t have to do an upgrade for awhile.
And, if YouTube hadn’t caught this and switched, the code might have broken and view count might have become a negative number. To celebrate this upgrade, YouTube put an easter egg on the videos counter that shows you how the view count would have looked if they hadn’t switched. Scroll over the view counts and it rolls back to negative. Try it yourself by visiting the video.
According to Google (the parent company of YouTube), they planned ahead when Gangnam Style started amassing such a huge number of views.
“Nothing actually broke. There was never anything that actually went wrong. It’s just people having fun with the language,” explained Google spokesman Matt McLernon. “People still play this video an absurd number of times.”
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