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Glastonbury Festival Live Stream - What Went Wrong?

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

Like many thousands of people we were unable to watch "Live At Worthy Farm" last night.

Whilst we're a live streaming company we were not involved in any way with this event but some of our clients have asked what went wrong with the Glastonbury 2021 live stream so here we aim to explain, based on what is currently publicly known as of 5:45pm 23/5/21.

There are normally two main elements that go into broadcasting an event online. In this case however there appear to have been three. We suspect this could be in part the cause of the issue.

Let's look at the most common process.

Content Creator / Production Company

Responsible for liaising with the client and performers and capturing the client's vision. They provide all the video equipment, creative talent and then capture the event often then streaming directly to the CDN.

Content Delivery Network (CDN) / Broadcast Platform

The live broadcast or pre-recorded event is then sent to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) where it's broadcast to the online audience. The most public of these are YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and Twitch etc.

These platforms are normally able to deal with large viewing numbers and have the servers to suddenly accept hundreds of thousands of viewers without any issues.

So the third party - For this event it appears that the Glastonbury management appointed a company called Driift Live to deliver the whole event.

Driift Live was set up just last year and on its website it says "Coupled with all the tech solutions, production capabilities and streaming functionality required, Driift delivers an artist-sensitive, creative and quality focussed approach.". These are very bold claims suggesting they have the knowledge and experience already to handle such a huge global event as this.

We suspect that Driift Live then appointed the production company to capture the event. The production company has issued a statement to say it had nothing to do with the CDN choice or had any control over the material after it was recorded. So this then leaves the CDN and who Driift Live decided to use.

Tickets were sold through which has worked with Glastonbury before as they are quoted on the website.

It's unclear who decided to partner with SeeTickets this year but looking at the wording on the letter of apology issued by Drifft Live today we would assume it was their decision.

So what went wrong and how could it have been avoided?

From the published Twitter posts it appears that the reason people could not view the broadcast once connected was that could not handle the sheer volume of traffic.

The first thing we would have advised Glastonbury is to choose a CDN who can handle the volume of traffic they are likely to attract. This is more important than anything else. It's not clear if SeeTickets have set up their own CDN or if they relied on another but it was very obviously overloaded and not able to cope with the volume.

Large CDNs that can cope with the traffic like YouTube can still be monetised for live events using third party companies like Cleeng. This way you utilise a reliable payment portal with a CDN designed for huge traffic.

It goes without saying that using a new third party company like Driift Live may, with hindsight, not have been a wise move.

The production company hired has a really good history in the industry and we assume could have advised and handled the CDN acquisition.

If you're looking to broadcast any event, of any size, please do contact us today.


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