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Glastonbury fans locked out of livestream of UK’s biggest music festival


Written by By Eoin McSweeney, CNN

Did you ever hop a fence to get access to a concert? The modern-day equivalent might have occurred en masse Saturday as fans were able to experience the UK’s biggest music festival for free after it suffered technical difficulties.

Fans in the UK who bought tickets for £20 ($28) to access Glastonbury’s live stream event could not watch the performances of artists such as Coldplay, Jorja Smith and George Ezra and organizers were forced to release a link to a free stream instead.

“Again, I’m so sorry for the issues in the first part of the stream,” said the festival’s organizer Emily Eavis in a tweet. “But thank you for all the messages of support, as well as the incredible responses we’ve seen to the film itself.”

The “Live at Worthy Farm” show started at 7 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET) but within minutes fans were complaining online that they could not watch the first act, Wolf Alice, despite having already paid.

Glastonbury’s streaming partner Driift said in a statement it was “devastated” about the technical failure.

The online events organizer, which has successfully hosted for artists such as Niall Horan and Andrea Bocelli, sent out a replacement link two hours after the show started which allowed fans to watch back for free.

George Ezra performs at the five-hour special production which featured artists such as Coldplay and Jorja Smith.

George Ezra performs at the five-hour special production which featured artists such as Coldplay and Jorja Smith. Credit: Anna Barclay for Glastonbury Festival/Getty Images

“I could eventually watch the entire festival, but of course the organization of the event was not up to the standard that a festival as important as this is supposed to meet,” said Ana Bravo Díaz, who tried accessing the online festival from Madrid, Spain after paying for a ticket.

She told CNN Sunday she could not access the stream for two hours and that even when she could, there was no option to rewind to the beginning until after the show had ended.

Bravo Díaz said she has not been offered a refund directly, but Driift has made a form available for those who want to request one. It said anyone who purchased a ticket would also be given access to Sunday’s streams and that a viewing link would also be made available until May 30.

Glastonbury and Driift did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The organizers of Glastonbury said in January that Britain’s famous music festival would be canceled for a second year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets already purchased will roll over to 2022 — when Glastonbury intends to hold just its second event in five years, following a year off in 2018 and two consecutive canceled events.

The online stream was supposed to provide much-needed funding for the event in 2022, while also supporting the charities Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid, according to Glastonbury’s website.

Grammy-nominated director Paul Dugdale created the five-hour production, which takes viewers on a virtual tour of the festival site. Three other streams set up to suit other timezones were unaffected by the malfunction.

“We put our heart and soul into making this film, and we are so proud of it. We are also hugely grateful to all the artists who gave their time to deliver such stunning performances,” said Eavis in a separate tweet.

The show will be streamed again on Sunday.

The internationally renowned event normally takes place over 900 acres of the Eavis family’s Somerset farm, southwestern England.

The 2019 festival drew a crowd of 175,000 attendees and featured performances from The Cure, Stormzy and The Killers, among others.

Glastonbury — arguably the most esteemed live music event in the world — has been headlined by a glittering array of British and global stars since its first date in 1970, including David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Oasis, U2 and Beyoncé.

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