Question

Ads, support for streaming from URLs.

  • 23 February 2021
  • 8 replies
  • 55 views

I tuned in to SomaFM’s Groove Salad streaming channel this morning for the first time in a while and a lengthy ad played through my Sonos system before the music started, mid-song. It wasn’t an ad from SomaFM, they’re an ad-free listener-supported service. I donate to them periodically. Sonos apparently wants money for connecting me to freely available content I’m already paying SomaFM for (through donations), which is infuriating.

I switched my connection to SomaFM to go through “Sonos Radio”, back when Sonos introduced their Radio service, because that way I at least got (a single) cover art image for the station, rather than a generic gray square. Previously, I had set up streaming to several of SomaFM’s channels through the Sonos app on my Mac (because Sonos doesn’t allow this functionality on iOS for some reason), by adding the URLs directly. Except, they end up as TuneIn “stations” rather than direct URLs. This is also infuriating - is Sonos really not capable of storing a URL on their own, without involving a third party service? And this path gets no cover art and has no ability to add your own (if you have a dozen channels on the same service, locating the right one is annoying).

  • So, why is Sonos sticking their own ads in front of freely-available listener-supported content? (And any answer involving “Sonos gives SomaFM a fraction of the ad revenue” is missing the point that I already contribute to SomaFM directly - I give them money specifically so that they won’t have to have ads - and you’re adding an ad into the equation.)
  • And, why can’t I add a streaming channel directly with a URL and not have it loop through some third party like TuneIn?
  • And why can’t I add URLs in the Sonos app on my iPhone or iPad?
  • And why can’t I at least set a cover image to use for a given user-entered URL?

On this last one in particular, it’d be nice if Sonos could pick up the station art directly, but I’m happy to go to the extra effort of downloading it from the streaming service and pasting it into the Sonos app myself, if Sonos would let me. I have a bunch of password-protected subscription-only streaming URLs that I’ve pasted into the Sonos app on my Mac, and they all show with identical generic gray artwork - makes locating the desired station in a hurry needlessly difficult.

Okay, one last thing while I’m at it: dear Sonos, will you please stop putting up giant buttons on the settings page urging me to add a damn voice assistant? I’m never going to add Alexa or Google Home. If you some day work a deal to get Siri on my Arc, then we’ll talk (no, she’s not as clueful, but I trust her in my living room, and I don’t trust Amazon or Google to be listening 24/7). But you keep putting up this giant “Add a voice assistant (it’s only 10 minutes!)” button and I keep dismissing it, and you keep putting it up again - please stop.


8 replies

Regarding the ad at the beginning of SomaFM, I’d be curious to hear more about this.  Doesn’t seem that Sonos would throw an ad on a commercial free station they don’t own, but I’m not aware of a better explanation.

As far as the URL switching to tune-in, it does make some sense to check if the URL is already covered as an existing service.  I can see why you’d want it to be a seperate URL, but the system isn’t tracking a custom URL this way, and if the URL changes, Tune-in should be updated accordingly.

As far as the cover image, I can’t see Sonos allowing users to use their own images since there is limited storaage capacity on the devices to store such images.

Just my thoughts...

TuneIn does indeed throw what are called ‘pre-roll’ ads in their streams. Has nothing to do with Sonos, and should only happen, to my knowledge, when you initiate a stream.

Any ad before the stream starts would be inserted by TuneIn, not Sonos.

Manually added URLs go in via the TuneIn menu on Sonos because that was a convenient place to put the options originally. They’re stored locally, and in execution don’t hook TuneIn at all. You can even add those stations into My Sonos and remove TuneIn entirely; they’ll still work.

The option to add/edit URL’s can be found on all controllers: https://support.sonos.com/s/article/260

Yes, there’s no station artwork for manual URLs, but then I tend not to stare at the controller when radio is playing. An occasional check for which song’s playing maybe -- for which metadata, if available, is supplied by the station -- and that’s it.

Regarding the ad at the beginning of SomaFM, I’d be curious to hear more about this.  Doesn’t seem that Sonos would throw an ad on a commercial free station they don’t own, but I’m not aware of a better explanation.

As far as the URL switching to tune-in, it does make some sense to check if the URL is already covered as an existing service.  I can see why you’d want it to be a seperate URL, but the system isn’t tracking a custom URL this way, and if the URL changes, Tune-in should be updated accordingly.

I just started up “SomaFM: Groove Salad” again - as a “Sonos Radio Station” - and it played a 30 second commercial (nothing related to SomaFM, an actual commercial) before dropping into the middle of a song. SomaFM is, very specifically, an ad-free, listener-supported, streaming service. I donate to them periodically, so that they won’t have to have ads. Sonos is adding an ad to this freely available content. Which is kind of despicable. Looks like I’m going to need to delete the Sonos Radio entry for SomaFM from my favorites and add it directly via URL again (which means “TuneIn”, sigh, but that’s a different problem). One of the reasons I listen to (and contribute to) SomaFM is because they have no ads. If I listen to them through my expensive Sonos speakers, using Sonos’ recommended method (Sonos Radio), Sonos is adding ads to a freely available stream. I expected better from Sonos.

The bit about URLs going through TuneIn in order to have them update as needed, doesn’t/can’t work for, say, the URLs that I have for various channels on di.fm - these are subscription only, they cannot be updated automatically, because they cannot be shared with anyone else, because they are keyed to me personally.

 

TuneIn does indeed throw what are called ‘pre-roll’ ads in their streams. Has nothing to do with Sonos, and should only happen, to my knowledge, when you initiate a stream.

The ads I’m talking about are occurring at the beginning of a Sonos Radio stream - from a freely-available ad-free service (SomaFM) - that particular problem has nothing to do with TuneIn and everything to do with Sonos, despite your assertion to the contrary. Ads added to material that was made freely available by the original source are annoying, even if they’re only at the start of the stream.

Any ad before the stream starts would be inserted by TuneIn, not Sonos.

Manually added URLs go in via the TuneIn menu on Sonos because that was a convenient place to put the options originally. They’re stored locally, and in execution don’t hook TuneIn at all. You can even add those stations into My Sonos and remove TuneIn entirely; they’ll still work.

The option to add/edit URL’s can be found on all controllers: https://support.sonos.com/s/article/260

Yes, there’s no station artwork for manual URLs, but then I tend not to stare at the controller when radio is playing. An occasional check for which song’s playing maybe -- for which metadata, if available, is supplied by the station -- and that’s it.

Again, the ads in question here are being added by Sonos - I’m talking about Sonos Radio, not TuneIn, for the ads that are being added to SomaFM.

Thank you for the link to how to add URLs on iOS. It’s infuriatingly obscure - on macOS, it’s “Manage > Add Radio Station” - on iOS, it’s “Browse > TuneIn > My Radio Stations > (‘…’ menu in the top row as opposed to the ‘…’ on every other line of that screen) > Add New Radio Station”. How could any rational person think that was discoverable? All it’s missing is a locked door with a sign on it reading “Beware of the Leopard”.

I’d be happy enough for each controller to store artwork locally, for custom URLs, even if it means I have to go around to several (Mac, iOS) devices and paste in the same pictures. It’d be better that having a generic gray square show up instead. And no, I don’t stare at the controller when the radio is playing. I do, however, like to change stations occasionally, which involves scrolling through dozens of favorites to find the one I want next. If half of them share the same featureless gray icon, it’s… the opposite of helpful. I would expect better from Sonos.

I’m having to switch my SomaFM channels now from Sonos Radio - which likes to add in commercials - back to direct URLs (which Sonos labels as “TuneIn Stations”), to get away from the ads. Which means going from a bunch of easily recognized, distinctive, colorful icons, back to a bunch of identical information-free gray squares. Yes, I can read the names of the stations - why should I have to, when distinct icons are quicker to parse?

TuneIn does indeed throw what are called ‘pre-roll’ ads in their streams. Has nothing to do with Sonos, and should only happen, to my knowledge, when you initiate a stream.

The ads I’m talking about are occurring at the beginning of a Sonos Radio stream - from a freely-available ad-free service (SomaFM) - that particular problem has nothing to do with TuneIn and everything to do with Sonos, despite your assertion to the contrary. Ads added to material that was made freely available by the original source are annoying, even if they’re only at the start of the stream.

 

I think the point is that 3rd party radio stations within Sonos Radio are actually delivered through tunein.  Others can correct me if I’m wrong, but instead of establishing connections to these stations themselves, so Sonos just added a layer over tunein.

I agree with Danny here, much of ‘Sonos Radio’ is just an overlay currently of TuneIn supplied data. Whether or not that is a permanent thing is unknown. If Sonos is spinning up a group to take over the management of all of that data, it would likely be a lengthy (and expensive) process. There’s a reason why TuneIn does those pre-roll ads, they have their own staff to pay. TANSTAAFL.

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