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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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So I am guessing by all the hints you have been part of the private beta that has been running for several weeks. Good to know things will be back to normal soon.
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In a few days, we plan to make available via public beta the BBC HLS streaming implementation which has until now been under development and internal quality testing. The quality of features that make it into public beta is generally very high, but we continue testing with a wider audience to make sure that we provide a truly rock-solid experience when the update is released to all.

Excellent news, good work heading off the expected complaints caused by releasing new products without fixing existing issues by posting here. It's still an infuriating experience listening to BBC Radio on Sonos, so looking forward to the beta.

Will this be part of the normal beta stream or a separate beta signup?


This will be part of the normal beta stream. If you're already signed up for the 6.0 public beta, you'll receive an update prompt in-app as soon as the new version is available. If you're not currently participating and would like to join in preparation, visit http://www.sonos.com/beta.
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With the current Beta we have to dismiss the Update on IOS. Presumably that advice will be super ceded?
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You will still dismiss the iOS update. You will need to update from desktop or android. I asked about this and was told as long as hardware gets the update then current iOS 5.4 will show hls streams.
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That's what I had assumed Chris. I'm yet to get my round this new trend of calling desktop and laptop programs apps!
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You will still dismiss the iOS update. You will need to update from desktop or android. I asked about this and was told as long as hardware gets the update then current iOS 5.4 will show hls streams.

Good news - the next beta update has changes which improve the behavior when running an older iOS version from the firmware on the players. The app runs in a limited compatibility mode but you'll no longer need to regularly dismiss the update prompt as before.
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I posted an announcement about some planned maintenance on the BBC streams and wanted you all to know about it here too. The post is here: https://en.community.sonos.com/announcements-228985/planned-maintenance-on-bbc-streams-929-6731999

Currently, we expect problems playing, browsing, or loading BBC stations on Sonos within the following time periods:

BBC National networks, nations and local radio: 02:00 – 04:00 BST on Tuesday 29th September
BBC World Service networks (including languages) 10:00 – 12:00 BST on Wednesday 30th September
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The imminent arrival of HLS is welcome!

However, hls will be replaced by DASH in the near future .... are Sonos preparing for this?
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Watching this closely. I had already signed up to the beta for the purpose of hoping I'd get to try BBC as it should be.

Even more eagerly awaiting as 6Music has been unavailable to me for the last couple of days now.
Userlevel 7
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The imminent arrival of HLS is welcome!

However, hls will be replaced by DASH in the near future .... are Sonos preparing for this?


We haven't had any indication that HLS is going to be replaced with DASH in the near future, but that the two may be available at the same time. If things change we'll continue pushing to keep BBC radio playing on your Sonos at home.
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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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John, thanks for the update. So far main stations seem to be all working ok. Some of the local BBC stations not connecting eg BBC Merseyside.
Not sure what your comment on listen again meant about staying on current mp3 streams. At the moment I am not seeing any listen again content in my searches.
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BBC Merseyside now working. Others seem stable. Thanks
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For pre-recorded content be sure you are searching under Podcast/Shows. I show a good deal of BBC content when I go under that category.
I've been testing BBC HLS stations for a few weeks on a slightly earlier beta release using direct URLs rather than via TuneIn and, so far, these have been working beautifully.

Cheers,

Keith
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Back to streams cutting out again this morning. Frustrating.
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Chris I have been a user for a long time so I did search under podcasts/shows. The mistake I made was to use my iPod as my controller out of long term habit instead of hauling my laptop oit of my bag. I can now see the listen again shows 🙂. Hopefully Sonos will have an iOS version out soon, my wife hates waiting for my Windows laptop to boot up :)
Just as a matter of interest Sonos people, if I forget and select a BBC radio station on iOS will I get the mp3 stream again rather than HLS?
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It aeems the problem with the local BBC stations such as Merseyside is the tunein, it doesn't appear to offer the HLS streams for the local BBC stations.
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I installed the beta specifically to see if it fixed the dropouts on my local BBC station, BBC Essex. Therefore can Sonos confirm if and when the HLS streams will be available to beta users va tunein so we can give you our feedback please.

Thanks

Andy
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OK

Just to make sure I'm streaming the HLS version of my local radio station I've manually added it using the url from:

http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/iphone_player/aachls.asp?URL=0

I'll feedback my results tomorrow.

Andy
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Thanks Andy. Seems to be working for me too but too late for the local sports preview of weekend rugby and Monday's derby :(
Hopefully Tunein will add the BBC local HLS links for Sonos soon.
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If there are missing links you can manually add the stations in the desktop controller
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That is what I did. See above. Thanks again Andy for the links
Miracles do happen!!! Managed to have breakfast today without having to reboot Radio BBC 4 three times......also audio quality much better Fingers crossed 🆒
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Andy_80 - presumably you are using Beta software?

BBC Radio 4 require 2 reboots this morning, + some minutes before 09:00 when I got the message that content was not available!