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

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. - Anna Barclay for Glastonbury Festival/Getty Images

Originally Published: 23 MAY 21 05:10 ET

Updated: 23 MAY 21 08:52 ET

By Eoin McSweeney, CNN

    (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.

"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.

Driift sent CNN a second statement Sunday saying it was "mortified" and that the technical issues were unacceptable.

"Driift is not a tech business or a media platform, and we rely on a third party company for certain aspects of broadcasting the stream," it said. "This provider has now identified the cause of last night's problems, and, although we are awaiting a full technical report, there were no subsequent issues for ticket buyers accessing later streams for North America or Australia."

The events company apologized to Glastonbury, the artists who performed and customers. It added that it is not making money from the livestream event.

Glastonbury 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.

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