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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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Userlevel 6
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Let's hope that Sonos can take advantage of te nitro api to produce a fully featured iPlayer service ....

Notwithstanding the current problems,I've just purchased a second Play1 (for gbp 109 delivered) - probably will be used as a stereo pair using LMS !!!
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Brian-Good luck with that, as long as you are happy to use LMS for as long as need be, or in the belief that  sosos sort things out , you have done well price wise 
Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
The most successful device will be the one that offers BOTH decent internet radio AND music services.

Sonos has this potential - they just need to get their act together on the BBC services, which are unparalled in the internet radio spectrum: World news, national news, local news and culture services, drama. music from Bangla to Beethoven- nothing else comes close to the variety and quality avialable both live and on-demand.  And all commercial-free!
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
"Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well." - justin.bell

You really don't have to follow this thread, you can easily cancel it.

Unfortunately, the UK is saddled with a truly dreadful MP2!!!!! based DAB system which is awful audio quality and does not work inside modern houses because of their foil-lined insulation (FM is also muted by that Faraday cage but at least it works).

BBC internet radio (in the UK) is vastly better audio quality (320 kbps AAC) than DAB. On top of that, via internet the BBC offer a fantastic variety of ad-free world-beating programmes, pod-casts and play-it-again services. If I could only have one source, this would certainly be my choice.

Sonos have, in the past, provided a very satisfactory one-stop solution to streaming from my NAS and from 'my' BBC. The return of a decent BBC service is VERY important to many (most?) of us Sonos owning Brits. We bought Sonos in the first place for convenience - a convenience that we have barely had this year.

I'm sorry if this thread is boring to people who do not want to listen to the BBC, and to those outside the UK who will probably never get our excellent quality streams. In the mean-time just stop following the thread justin.bell. It is mystifying why you followed it in the first place if you are not interested.
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well. - justin.bell
I couldn't agree more Justin, I didn't buy sonos with the sole intention of listening to the BBC.
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
I didn't buy sonos with the sole intention of listening to non-BBC streams.

So what's your point?
Userlevel 7
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
Im rather with Martin on this one.  There is not one sole purpose for sonos - its a streamer for multiple sources - radio, nas, music services. TV audio etc.  Most of the issues on this site relate specifically to an issue/shortcoming with one source or format whether that be apple music, spotify, deezer, DTS, BBC hls, hi-res etc.  What may be important for one person may be irrelevant for another but that doesnt make their issue any less valid than yours.  If you arent interested in following a particular topic then simply 'unfollow' it - dont chip in about how niche it might be to you when it might represent 99% of their usage for another.
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
"I couldn't agree more Justin, I didn't buy sonos with the sole intention of listening to the BBC." - Dave 

Again: It's pretty weird someone posting in this thread if they are not interested in it.

The solution is simple.......

1. Look at the top of the thread where you will find an "UNFOLLOW" button. 

2. Click on that button and you will no longer be bothered by those of us desperate to get the BBC back.

3. Reflect on the obvious fact that your fellow man has different interests from you. 
Userlevel 6
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
"Again: It's pretty weird someone posting in this thread if they are not interested in it." - Martin

How presumptuous of you that I have no interest in this issue, do you know me?

Fact is I didn't buy sonos to play the BBC and although I listen to the BBC (Cambridge - England) I'm not overly worried that the current service is poor and will wait patiently for a fix.

I don't disagree with you that this issue needs fixing but you choose to tell users of the sonos community they have no right to voice their opinions - well I have a right and so do others, the BBC HLS thread doesn't belong to you even if you are the loudest voice on the thread.

When this problem is resolved I will be curious to see what other threads you participate in to help the community!
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
"Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well." - justin.bell
"I couldn't agree more Justin, I didn't buy sonos with the sole intention of listening to the BBC". - Dave

If you look again at your post Dave, repeated in full for your convenience, you will see that you were very clearly sharing justin's intolerance of those who want the BBC back.  If you show that same intolerance, which clearly you do ("I couldn't agree more..."), you should expect someone to react to your own display of intolerance.

Unfortunately for you, being a 'champion', you must also expect people to suspect that you are attempting to protect Sonos from criticism. That goes with the title I'm afraid.

Even bearing in mind that you probably get a good FM service in Cambridge, I would still not dream of criticising you for being content with the poor quality that we suffer via Sonos. Many of us are not. Get over it.
Userlevel 4
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
"When this problem is resolved I will be curious to see what other threads you participate in ......" - Dave

Sorry, we have no information to share at this time 😉
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Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
But this thread is about BBC streams. Obviously, there's more to Sonos and I've no doubt there are lots of other threads on here about things I have no interest in which I don't follow (natch). Those of us who are keen to make our Sonos systems 'complete' again are keenly awaiting developments. That's why we're following and contributing to this thread. I'm sure Martin will contribute to other threads in the future if it's something he's interested in or that affects his enjoyment of his investment. Same as the rest of us regular non-champion members.
Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
As long as we can listen to the BBC radio stations without it dropping out, we'll be happy. So your news that this will be fixed by the end of this year is very encouraging.

In the same way as Digitally Imported isn't available to us in the UK, I hope that we will be able to add BBC iPlayer as a Music Service and listen to recently recorded shows that I have missed.

Having read loads of posts on this now, it seems that those two things are what we all want in the UK. Working radio stations and the ability to play previous shows.
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Hi Ryan, I'm listening to F1 practice on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra which I haven't been able to do since the change to MP3 streams.
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Got HLS BBC and listen again working on paired Play1's using LMS (UPnPBridge plugin) on a touchscreen Joggler display.   Good vibrations.
Good grief, you lot seem to talk as if this product is only for streaming BBC radio. That's an bonus feature to streaming music... which this does really well.
The drop-outs on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 4 this week have been worse than ever, which is really infuriating. The sooner this is fixed the better. I have had to dust off an old FM radio and use this instead. It doesn't look or sound as good as the Sonos speaker which sits next to it, but at least it can play the BBC stations I listen to each day.
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Just posted this in another thread (sorry, getting used to the new forum)

For those who think the HLS streams are some sort of panacea, think again. The BBC might be providing 320K and 96K streams, but the audio quality doesn't sound very good, at least on the international stream (I can't test the UK one)

Listen for yourself

Download a media player which supports HLS - SMPlayer or MPC-HC - You need a pretty recent copy.

MPC-HC is fine for this purpose. It's just a ZIP or 7z file, no installation needed.

https://mpc-hc.org/downloads/


In MPC-HC, choose:

FILE > OPEN FILE


Enter the link below appropriate to your geographic area



International (everywhere but the UK) -96K is the highest bitrate available

http://as-hls-ww-live.bbcfmt.vo.llnwd.net/pool_6/live/bbc_6music/bbc_6music.isml/bbc_6music-audio%3d96000.m3u8?dvr_window_length=24



UK ONLY 320K

http://as-hls-uk-live.bbcfmt.vo.llnwd.net/pool_6/live/bbc_6music/bbc_6music.isml/bbc_6music-audio%3d320000.m3u8?dvr_window_length=24


**** And the proposed MPEG DASH format slated for future release...well, maybe not

http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/News/Online-Video-News/An-Unhappy-Surprise-MPEG-LA-Is-Forming-a-Patent-Pool-for-DASH-105419.aspx
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If you have Windows, you can send the above stream to Sonos using Stream What You Hear - http://www.streamwhatyouhear.com/ (credit to CapnLes)

Once installed, it will reside in the system tray. Right click on the icon and choose "Settings" - Set to MP3 and port 85



Then choose "Tools" > "Http Live Streaming"



You'll now be presented with the information required to enter when you create a custom radio station in Sonos

You can ignore the "Don't stream from this computer" message - just set the master audio volume of your PC to 0 (speaker volume tray icon)



Finally, choose "Live" as the audio source in Sonos (the custom radio station you just created)



It sounds pretty decent, actually. I take back what I said above. The 96K HLS is a reliable stream so far.

Yeah, it's extra steps. Just keep listening to the TuneIn 128K MP3 if you want simplicity at the cost of unreliability.
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Sorry, the radio station to choose in the example above is called "Local", not "Live"
As a member of the bus pass generation I was initially delighted with my new Sonos for Christmas. So when I began to experience problems with BBC radio I assumed it was something I'd done. Was my wifi working properly? The symptoms went from the occasional short drop out and reconnect to drop out and stop, and within the last couple weeks I've had "unable to play, file in wrong format" and a spell where every other second went missing. Reconnect manually and everything is fine. For a while. It always drops out on an interesting bit.

I logged the problems with Sonos support and was given the HLS story but told MP3 was working. It was several exchanges later that a reply admitted problems with BBC Radio playback that wouldn't be solved for some time, and pointed me to this forum, where I discovered I am by no means alone.

With no answer in sight, I've got round the Sonos problem by buying a Cambridge Bluetooth speaker which gives reliable live radio, all the iPlayer playback facilities, and the full Spotify interface to make finding music simple. From the same Android tablet I use to control Sonos.

So come on Sonos, it can't be that difficult!!!
Sorry, a daft question - I was thinking about buying into Sonos but read about these problems with BBC radio. I would be using the speakers to play BBC radio quite a bit so need to be able to listen to it.
Looking at the supported music services, it says that Tunein radio is supported. That plays BBC live streams - so could I use Tunein radio to listen to BBC radio on a Sonos?

Thanks
Userlevel 7
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Well kinda. Tune in is just a catalog. BBC radio is cataloged by tune in but sonos can not play the high quality feeds only the low quality prone to breakup feeds. This is because the high quality feeds are newer and sonos has had to add the ability to play these type (hls) feeds. We expect to see support in the next public beta which at this time we only know to be before end of year (I would expect much sooner).

Other points though. Public beta is never for iPhone so iPhone users probably will see fix closer to holidays. Also we do not know how they are handling on demand streaming if that is something you use.

There are workarounds to this (I have ability to play hls streams and in demand now with lms server running) but everything I am saying applies to out of the box.
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I am in France, but listen to BBC streams quite a lot via TuneIn (In order of importance: World Service, R4, R6, R2) ... I do get occasional drops, well more like lags, as the stream usually restarts after a couple of seconds - this happens from any of my Sonos set ups, so I don't think it is a question of local Wifi, as some of my Sonos units are cabled.
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If you listen to BBC on Sonos you are going to have dropouts until hls streams are supported (probably still have a few when hls added but very infrequent as the hls streams have trouble time to time). Hls ability shouldn't be far off and will improve the experience on sonos.