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Support for BBC Radio HLS Streams


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To keep everything clean and easy to read we've created a new thread for this issue. We are working to get the BBC HLS streams playing on your Sonos systems and we’ll update you when we have news to share.

John recently posted the below official update on a different thread:

There has been a lot of discussion lately around BBC Radio streams and we thought it might be helpful to summarize everything that's happened recently in case you are new to the topic.

Following the decision to move away from using WMA last year, the BBC has recently begun the process of switching to a new streaming method called chunked HTTP streaming,* one of many newly emerging options for providing audio and video content online.

There are several different options for how to implement chunked HTTP streaming, including offerings from Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and MPEG.  The BBC has chosen to use an Apple-developed format commonly referred to as HLS and tell us they will add the MPEG version at a later date.

Chunked HTTP transfer is beneficial for both listeners and providers in terms of scalability and reliability, but it lacks a unified and agreed-upon industry standard. Many hardware devices (including Sonos) have yet to implement full support for each of these emerging formats.  The scenario presents a challenge for manufacturers. Which of the many formats do you choose to develop and support first? It’s a bit like Betamax vs. VHS or HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray.

In the meantime - to maintain compatibility with a wide range of manufacturers, services, and operating systems - the BBC has chosen to also provide MP3 versions.  Our partner, the internet radio aggregator TuneIn, is currently serving these streams to Sonos in lieu of the HLS versions.  However, there are two issues with the existing MP3 streams:

  • The MP3 streams are available in 128Kbps quality for all services including local radio.
  • Some sports and other live events are only available within the UK due to streaming rights, and the MP3 streams presented to Sonos only include international versions which blank out this content.  Note: the BBC has informed us they intend to address this issue separately and do not yet have an available time frame.  
Sonos is in the early planning stages for adding support for HLS, which will address these issues and restore a better experience for BBC Radio on Sonos moving forward. Timing will be shared once we have a realistic idea of when it will be ready.

If you have a BBC station saved in your Sonos favorites, it will still point to the non-functional WMA stream and you may receive an error when attempting to play the stream.  You can correct this by removing the old favorite, searching for the station again, and then creating a new favorite with the working version.

*You can read about chunked HTTP, HLS, and the other competing formats in more detail in this post on the BBC blog.

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Please keep the discussion on topic and avoid attacking other users.
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Best answer by John M 1 October 2015, 22:07

Hi everyone, the update to our public beta is now live, and we are beginning our testing of HLS for the BBC as of today. This will mark the first time BBC streams are made available in HLS through Sonos for a wide audience. Once the beta program concludes, the change will be made available to all Sonos users.

If you’re currently a public beta tester, you already have everything you need to begin receiving HLS. Just update to the latest build using the Update Now prompt in your controller. If you’re not currently a beta tester and would like to help test HLS, you can sign up at http://beta.sonos.com. For all testers, new and old alike, we’re seeking your input on how well the implementation is working, especially in terms of quality and reliability.

After updating to the latest build of the public beta (version 6.0), Sonos will automatically receive an HLS stream provided by the BBC through TuneIn instead of the MP3 versions being provided at the moment. You’ll notice an immediate increase in audio quality, as well as the removal of restrictions on local streaming content for listeners in the UK.

The archived listen again content will not be available in HLS on Sonos with update. Those shows are being recorded in HLS but there's still have some work to be done before the streaming for on demand HLS shows will play through Sonos. Past shows may appear empty or have recorded content in there which gives an error message when it tries to play. We're working on getting the on demand shows playing on Sonos, but wanted to get the direct live streams playing as soon as we could. We are looking to get the listen again content available in a future Sonos release, currently targeted for 2016.

Many of you are also wondering about our long-term plans for the BBC on Sonos. While we don’t have any specific details to share at this moment, we also believe that for many, the BBC is a vital part of daily listening. We’re currently engaged in discussions with the BBC about how we can partner to provide the best possible BBC experience on Sonos.

Edited with latest information 10/20/15
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928 replies

Thanks for the update. When this better BBC experience Is rolled out, will we be able to use the radio on demand services again? Put another way, does HLS support radio on demand or is it just a higher quality stream?
Thanks so much for this update. It is much appreciated. Just another vote for a clarification about the iplayer / listen again streams. 
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That is a good question but right now it's a little too early to share those details. The HLS streams are a replacement for the previous streams, but we don't have any updates right now regarding how the integration will look when it's ready to go.
It still doesn't work!
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to recap, about an hour ago I lost all BBC radio stations fed via Tunein. I've tried forgetting all my favourites and searching again but I keep getting 'not found' when I try any BBC station? I assume Tunein were serving up the mp3 streams, but they've now disappeared? 
Exactly the same here, searching again for the station does not solve the issue. All BBC is down now. I have had so much trouble with this Sonos/Deezer/Tunein system I am seriously considering taking the Sonos speaker back for a refund.
If I can't use the Sonos to listen to BBC Radio then it's going back to the shop. This is ridiculous, I have it on all the time in the kitchen as we have no FM or DAB signal here.
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Everybody, this topic has been covered extensively over the last few weeks, please read the BBC blog as to why this is happening. If you have followed the story on this or the now closed thread you can find a work around - if for some reason this issue has just started happening then sorry I don't know why. sonos are looking to fix this and have stated this could take a while, so for now please try to be patient and stay on-topic.
Nothing doing here and as most of us in the UK use our systems rather than DAB, this is depressing to say the least! Come on Sonos at least give us the timeframe you're working to?
Everybody, this topic has been covered extensively over the last few weeks, please read the BBC blog as to why this is happening. If you have followed the story on this or the now closed thread you can find a work around - if for some reason this issue has just started happening then sorry I don't know why. sonos are looking to fix this and have stated this could take a while, so for now please try to be patient and stay on-topic.
can you explain why we can still get bbc world service?
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The 128kbps MP3 streams are not working in the standalone tunein radio app either which may explain the issue?
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Sonos - I am not interested in the technical debate. Please answer 2 questions 1. Is it correct that we UK listeners can no longer listen to the BBC, our national broadcaster, and if your answer is "yes" answer 2. When will it be available again? Like many people I am too committed financially to your system to change. Are you mentioning this in your UK advertising? Thank you
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There's currently an issue with the BBC radio streams that we're connection to. We're working to resolve it with our partners. It seems most of the BBC stations are affected, but it shouldn't be related to the HLS stream change that this thread is regarding.

We'll update you when it's resolved, but for the moment we appreciate your patience.
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For those of you, like me, who find it difficult to live without your radio streaming while they fix it there's a workaround you might want to try:  If you have a tablet or pc or smartphone load the BBC iPlayer Radio app.  Stream the station you want and then connect the headphone output to the line in on one of your Sonos players.  You can then select the source and stream it around the house.

It's clunky and needs you to have the right cable but if can be bothered, I hope this is helpful.
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Yesterdays elation of finally buying and setting up my new Sonos playbar, sub and 2 play ones is slowly turning into disappointment! No BBC radio (currently) and Spotify integration so watered down, most of the Features I use (starring tracks, Spotify radio etc) don't work!!
I'm hoping that this gets fixed sooner rather than later.  With a soundbar and two play ones I've invested quite a lot in the system.  I simply want to listen to BBC 6music.  I feel duped!
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yay! it's back now!
Yep works for me too.
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Came back - but gone again for me
Radio 2 back for now, fingers crossed!
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Obviously the BBC had some technical issues again today.
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There's currently an issue with the BBC radio streams that we're connection to. We're working to resolve it with our partners. It seems most of the BBC stations are affected, but it shouldn't be related to the HLS stream change that this thread is regarding.

We'll update you when it's resolved, but for the moment we appreciate your patience.

As noted here already, the outage with BBC should be resolved now.
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the current mp3 streams available have not been reliable.  BBC has said the equipment is old and therefore prone to problems.  Until HLS ability is added to support the new streams these kinds of problems will most likely continue.
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BBC Radio 4 back. 
The stream was having some trouble, you couldn't play it on TuneIn directly, but I don't have full details on the cause. We're keeping our eye on it though.
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BBC Radio 4 back. 
Thanks for the update Ryan - thought it was déjà vu.