Two Billion Views on YouTube

It appears that Gangham Style has broken YouTube! Well, er at least, broken the counter on YouTube. (Source:

[Tweet “How Gangham style broke YouTube #howbigis2billion”]

At last count, the official version of the Gangham video performed by South Korea’s Psy, had been seen by over 2.15 billion times. That’s equivalent to one-third of the world’s population. And, clearly that includes a couple of people who watched it more than once.

Disclaimer: I watched the video at least once whilst researching this story.

You might be thinking surely the counter is unlimited? Not so. It all comes down to computer code.

Way back in the dark ages of 2005, when they started building YouTube they set a limit that matches 32bit computer integers. This translates as a counter that has a maximum number of 2,147,483,647. Who’d have thought any video would come close to that? Now it looks like they’ll have to update to a 64-bit integer ready for the next big hit. This’ll double the counter to 4.2 billion. Surely that’ll be enough…

[Tweet “Eight things to help you gain two billion views on YouTube #PsybrokeYouTube”]

In fact, surely not… It simply sets the next benchmark to beat. Which raises a useful question…. If you’re going to be the one to break the 64-bit integer, what can you learn from Gangham’s video to model, copy and replicate?

Here’s a few tips:

  1. A great video! – Yes of course. Great visuals, great sound.
  2. A song! – You want people to watch more than once. We might read something once or twice. We might watch a video a few times. And, we’ll listen to a favorite song lots and lots!
  3. Timing – This video runs for just over 4 minutes (4:12 to be precise). Is this the magic number? Probably not. And 2-4 minutes is typical for a song. Don’t be too long if you want lots of repeat viewings.
  4. Learn something – I think this is the real multiplier. A song will get you so far. Then, I bet a lot of people watched repeatedly to learn how to do that dance. If you’re anything like me, I’d need to watch at least 10-20 times to get all the steps down pat.
  5. Sharing – Once you’ve mastered the moves then what? Clearly, you want to show-off in front of your friends. So, you invite them around and you show the clip and you strut your stuff. They join in and the rest is internet history.
  6. Different – I wonder how much Psy being from South Korea had to do with this viral growth? They are the most wired country on the planet. And, we don’t hear a lot of about them. If it had been another American pop princess doing the same song and dance it surely wouldn’t have had the same impact. Be different, be new, be fresh.
  7. A story – I think a lot of people miss this… There’s an underlying story in this video with some clearly defined characters. It’s nothing special, just the usual boy meets girl. And, this gives a little depth and drama to the clip. You could say this adds one more dimension to whole video.
  8. Start smaller – One more thing… Psy was not a nobody before he launched this video. He was already a superstar in South Korea. It might help to build your audience over time before trying to go the billion views in one step.

So, now you know how, I’ll race you to 4 billion views!

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