BBC in demand: The Olympics drives AnchorFree’s UK VPN software downloads by 1,849% in the US

BBC in demand: The Olympics drives AnchorFree’s UK VPN software downloads by 1,849% in the US

The Olympics are in full swing now (if you hadn’t noticed), and a lot has been written about the coverage of the sporting extravaganza.

In the UK, the BBC has generally received warm praise for its holistic, cross-platform (free) coverage, while over on the other side of the pond NBC has been heavily criticized for its coverage, despite the network trying to spin a different yarn.

However, some interesting numbers have emerged courtesy of AnchorFree, a software provider that makes setting up a virtual private network (VPN) a cinch.

Indeed, we’ve previously covered how you can watch BBC iPlayer abroad (the same version UK viewers receive) through tapping AnchorFree’s tech.

“While it’s always been possible to tunnel into the iPlayer from outside the UK via a Virtual Private Network, the average user would probably find this too much hassle to set up, and VPNs often charge a monthly fee,” wrote TNW’s Martin Bryant at the time. “To solve the problem, a new free app called Expat Shield has launched this month from AnchorFree, the same stable as Hotspot Shield which offers the same service for US users.”

It seems that Expat Shield (giving users a UK IP address) and Hotspot Shield (the same for the US) see huge surges in use during big events that entail blocked content. In terms of the Olympics, Expat Shield has seen a sizable increase in downloads – the company says that by comparing five days before the Olympics started, to 5 days after the Olympics, installations jumped by 212% a day globally, and a whopping 1,849% a day in the USA alone.

In real terms, the company says its notching up as many as 6,500 installations a day, with actual use growing by 23% around the world, and 262% in the US.

It seems the desire for easy circumventions of restricted sites is on the rise, as back in May we reported that Goldman Sachs was leading a whopping $52m investment round for AnchorFree.

No specific information is available regarding what has spurred this latest downloads surge, but it’s more than likely that the BBC’s impressive online Olympics offering, which includes 24 simultaneous live streams, has had at least something to do with it.

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