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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.

___

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

I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Hi, I haven't posted before but noticed I can't even listen to the London marathon this morning on Sonos and this is being broadcast on the bbc TV! A friend has recently asked about purchasing a. Sonos system and I have advised not to currently due to this issue....
I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Wish I'd spoken to you before I purchased last week...!!
I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

I believe the criticism levelled at Sonos through some of these posts is unfair. The Sonos system is not meant to be a "radio" but a way of playing music provided through 3rd parties (Spotify, Deezer, Google Music, Tunein etc) providing a subscription (free or paid) or from a source connected to the Sonos system (NAS drive, own stereo components, TV etc).

Sonos should only be responsible for the interface that allows these sources to provide a signal that can be played through its speaker system (or your own stereo components through the Connect unit). It is the providers of the subscription services that should be the subject of the comments raised and not Sonos. Even then these subscription providers can themselves be reliant on other parties (e.g. BBC).

I do not agree that Sonos should necessarily inform resellers about the (partial) lack of one set of radio stations that are actually provided by a third party (Tunein) and are (partly) unavailable due to decisions by the BBC to change the way it streams its stations. It seems strange that people should buy in to a relatively expensive system to listen to just a small range of radio stations. Connecting your television should as a minimum provide access to radio stations (Freeview/Sky/Virgin etc) or purchase a stereo radio unit that can connect to the Sonos system if it is that important.

It is admirable that Sonos have raised the issues and continue to act on their users behalf to get this matter resolved. I am sure that when there is something more concrete to report, they will post such a response. It is pointless reconfirming how often they have chased the 3rd party & they are well aware of the feelings of their users in wanting to get this resolved. Hopefully there will be something positive to report before too much longer.

Article on the Guardian Newspaper's site on the issue:
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/askjack/2015/mar/05/new-internet-radio-listen-bbc-stations
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

I couldn't agree more, I didn't spend over fifteen hundred pounds to listen to radio. My purchase was for streaming my iTunes library and Playbar for TV with play 1's as SS and connect:amp for music in bathroom. I'll even expand knowing the BBC streams are poor and I didn't buy a radio I brought a wireless multi-room system. And yes I'm UK. It's fair to say the BBC HLS stream is a "Big Issue" and needs fixing but sonos didn't cause the issue and have clearly stated on this thread and one that is now closed that they are working to resolve the HLS streams. So stating that you wish you hadn't brought your sonos system based on the BBC radio is poppycock.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Don't get me wrong, I want the BCC issue fixed, and like @Chris sympathise with others. As sonos goes they have been proactive on addressing this issue and clearly stating they are working to resolve it .
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Sonos isn't particularly the best "communicator".  But those of us who have been here a long time can tell when they are taking an issue seriously vs. canned responses.  They are taking the BBC issue seriously but the fix is not a simple one.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

I guess there are many UK Sonos users who access radio, as well as music 

There are likely 2 gripes: no hls access to high quality BBC feeds, and the fact that the sports commentaries on Radio 5 are geo-locked even for UK listeners.  Unless the BBC fix the mp3 geo-lock, the hls solution is the way to go.
I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Can't remember the last time I heard the word 'poppycock'
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

I think the point I would make is that if you have spent a fair amount of money on a Sonos system, and you live in the UK, you're unlikely to still be using your old radio as well. If BBC radio is an important part of your listening, and it is in mine along with Spotify and other internet radio, then it is really annoying to have to go back to the old FM radio to listen. Quite prepared to accept that radio is not important to all, but it is to some. If you live in the UK and listen to radio, then it is highly likely that BBC radio forms part of that listening. Therefore, if someone is buying a Sonos system in anticipation of being able to listen to anything and everything from the BBC, then it seems only fair to warn them that they 'may' be disappointed with their purchase.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

There's a comment to that effect on the Amazon review pages.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

And on the John Lewis website.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Given the very wide listenership of BBC radio in the UK (I posted the figures previously on this thread or another), I think the analogy of a TV is good one. Imagine buying a new HD TV, getting it home and finding that it will only display BBC channels (the national public broadcaster) in SD, and that all sports broadcasts are blanked out. Then taking it back to the shop to be told, "I'm surprised you're complaining - you can watch all the other channels in HD, and Netflix, and DVDs. If you really want to watch the sport, just get your old TV out, or watch it on an iPad ".... I'd be sending it back and waiting until the BBC and the TV manufacturers had got their acts together before buying again.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Actual analogy would be you purchased a new hdtv got it home and it worked great. Then one day you turned on TV and found some of your channels were not working because the broadcaster decided to start broadcasting in a new non-standard transmission. Your TV manufacturer then said they are working to via firmware get your tvs tuner to accept the new standard it was not originally developed for. Thank you manufacturer.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

I suppose if you are fortunate enough to have chosen a device running on open source software then there's a higher probability that some 'enthusiast' can come up with a solution in short order, compared to a proprietary 'corporate' system moving at a snail's pace.  
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

I would hardly call this a non-standard format as it was developed by Apple and has been in wide use since at least 2011 http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/Editorial/What-Is-.../What-is-HLS-(HTTP-Live-Streaming)-78221.aspx My problem is that Sonos ( a company in the business of surfacing other peoples streams on their equipment) has had nearly three months to fix this and we have had no communication frim them. . Very Apple like. Perhaps they will just add it to their next scheduled software update rather than provide an interim fix. I know lots of expats and shift workers who bought a Sonos system primarily for BBC program access and they are not happy.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Wiki says 2014 - not a standard but a draft

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_Live_Streaming
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

It has been in use since 2010. iOS 3 had it.

BBC is just the thin edge. Other content providers will/have no doubt move to it and Sonos will support it out of necessity (assuming the hardware is capable).

Really, Sonos has no choice but to support it. Imagine the marketing issues.

Similar issue several years ago with AAC+. Sonos didn't support it for many years, but as more and more streams moved to this they eventually added it.
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I was on the phone to the technical support staff today and they said that Sonos were waiting for tunedin to sort the problem.  So, basically, Sonos are doing absolutely nothing.  Expect a resolution.... never.

Maybe an employee of Sonos would like to deign this thread with their presence and confirm or deny this.

Reading through these comments I do understand the frustration of Sonos owners but in their defence I would make the following comments.

I have two Play 5 units. I have gone as far as buying an Apple Airport Express and connecting it to a Play 5 unit so that I can stream the BBC Radio i player app from my i phone to my Play 5. This app is supposedly using the new HLS streams and it does provide the Listen Again feature so many people are missing. So all would be well you would think-well no it is not as the connection between my phone and Airport Express is forever dropping out which is not a Sonos issue (or to be fair a BBC one)obviously an Apple Air Play one . Next fix, out I go and buy a Pure Evoke F4 Bluetooth DAB/Internet Radio which everybody tells me will work with this great new BBC system. I can inform you all now even that does not work without dropping out. The live BBC radio side seems fine but Listen Again is next to useless as it suffers from dropouts. There you are listening to a three hour music show via Listen Again, it stops playing, the Pure Radio says "no content playing" and with Pure's totally inadequate software back you have to go to the beginning of the show, start again and hope you get further than you did last time before another connection lost error appears! I have had a trail of emails with Pure support who tell me they have tested a few F4 s in their building and cannot reproduce my problem and that it must be the wireless signal in my house. OK so even though I have BT Infinity Business fibre with over 30meg download and over 18 meg upload speeds out I go and spend another £20.00 buying an adaptor so that I can plug the Pure straight to my router by Ethernet cable. Same problem with Listen Again shows. Only solution is the radio does have a timer record facility so you can record the programme you want live to a USB stick and listen to it from that. Great! I had less trouble time shifting radio shows with a cassette deck!

My point with this long tail of woe being that yes I accept maybe Sonos should be giving us more information than they are but please all of you bear in mind that from my experience of trying even the one off the shelf radio that is supposed to work with these new BBC streams that in terms of Listen Again for me it certainly does not. Maybe Sonos's experience in their R&D department has been the same which is why the are not rushing to implement a system that seems to only half work!

The BBC are totally at fault here. As others have mentioned if you lost all your BBC TV overnight there would be a riot but it needs to be understood that it is clear from emails I have had with them that according to their own figures their internet radio audience is only a small fraction of their total radio audience and I believe as such that although they deny it they are just not bothered about the disruption this is causing people like us.

Every other internet radio station I want on my Sonos is still there for me because nobody other than the BBC (much as I love so much of their radio output) would take this pathetic high handed attitude to a service we are paying them to provide.

Yes Sonos do need to find a solution but I for one can understand why they are not moving as fast to do so as we may want them to. British audio manufacturer Naim tried to be one jump ahead of the BBC and as you can read on other blogs got their fingers completely burned as the BBC changed the format of their original HLS stream without telling them and Naim are now in the same boat as everybody else!

The BBC need to be kicked more than Sonos. In my opinion they have clearly not been in contact with all these audio companies that they claim they have a year ahead of them changing their streaming format.
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Incredibly accurate... this is all the BBC
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The BBC audio factory project has reduced the BBC's position as the best online radio service to one equivalent to MyDIYfm stream broadcasting from a garden shed.

Sad.
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Where can I tune into MyDIYfm 🙂
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Don't bother - we use HLS !
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Any updates yet on this guys ?
Interestingly I am listening to a live footy match on 5 live through my Sonos....has it been resolved?
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Live streams have never been a problem just the listen again which are still after 6 months not working