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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

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At least it's not just me. Also you're right I am also getting short sections of audio repeating themselves. Can anyone from Sonos help us please? Tx
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I've been on holiday this week and Radio 4, Radio 2 or Radio 5 Live have been on for about 8 hours Sunday until today. I think I have had 1 drop-out which I linked to a power cut rather than an issue with the streams.


I would be loathe to assume there is a problem beyond your 2 set-ups at this point in time.
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I would really like to agree with you as I am huge Sonos fan but my setup hasn't changed for a couple of years at least. Kit is in the same place, same ISP, same router, music from any other source plays fine. I get a steady 60mbs internet connection and wifi signal is very strong through out the property. I listen to BBC radio daily with no issues up until a couple of days ago. Happy to take any suggestions as to how my setup might be causing this issue but I'm retired after 40 years working in IT and am pretty confident it's not a local issue. Tx.
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I would submit a diagnostic and have Sonos review for any issues.
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Chris, thanks for that. Never done it before, could you point me to how I do it? Many thanks.
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In PC Controller, Help, Submit Diagnostics.

Or give Sonos a call when at home with system. They are pretty good
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Sure - on mobile version go to settings...advanced....submit diagnostic. That will send Sonos all the info on your system and give you a diagnostic number.

I would normally say post here but as big as this thread is it may get lost in shuffle. So I would post a new question thread with your diagnostic number and issue and a Sonos rep. should come on to review. Or if you want maybe faster/easier then you could call Sonos with that diagnostic number.

Best of luck.
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Thank you both for your help I will submit a diagnostic and just drop a note back here with any significant findings.
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I've been having the same problem since yesterday with 6Music.
Drop outs between 1 to 10 secs and skipping back a few seconds.

Initially I blamed the extra Play 1 I'd added as a stereo pair yesterday, but I've reverted back to how it was before and still having issues.
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Exactly the same symptoms as me. I thought I would wait 24 hours before submitting diagnostics in case the problem goes away. This evening I have had no issues at all. Will see what tomorrow brings.
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Is yours OK now Nigel? Mine was fine all yesterday.
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Hi, yes mine has been fine for the last 48 hours so I will hold off on contacting Sonos for now. Clearly there was an issue somewhere since a number of us had the same symptoms which have now cleared. I will post back here if it happens again so we can compare notes!
Bit late to this but I'm still having the same issues as above. Sorry if I've missed it in the thread but did you do anything specific to sort it?
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Hi, no I didn't change anything. That's annoying you are still having issues because it brings back the question as to whether the problem lies locally or centrally somewhere. As I said I will be straight back on here if I get a repeat of the problem so in the interim if you hear nothing from me then my issue is 'quiet' .
Hi, no I didn't change anything. That's annoying you are still having issues because it brings back the question as to whether the problem lies locally or centrally somewhere. As I said I will be straight back on here if I get a repeat of the problem so in the interim if you hear nothing from me then my issue is 'quiet' .

Thanks! Sonos support have asked me to ring them so will report back what they say. Sadly I doubt its local as my system hasn't changed in ages but you never know.
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I have also been suffering with BBC Radio dropouts over the last few days. I had hoped that the HLS problems were behind us.
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I have had no dropouts at all for 5 days now so it would appear the problem varies by location. Will post back her if I get any more dropouts.
Okay so i called support and i've had better perfromance but i;m not entirely sure what fixed it. The guy said the hls system was stable so it MUST be my local system, and was in the middle of checking my connection from bridge to speakers when i, frankly, got bored and said i'd call back, being virtually certain this wasnt the issue due to being able to stream everything else perfectly.

HOWEVER, somewhere along the line something improved matters so here are the steps we went though, maybe it will help someone.

Do a Reset in the wifi settings in the sonos controller app.
Am sure you've deleted any radio station entries in sonos favourite or "my radio stations" and add them again. You need to do this on all the device you use to control sonos i think.
Restart the bridge and re add the speakers.
do yesterdays(?) update - no idea if this had a fix for this in it.

So yes, i did all of the above together and at some point it started working, or rather has been fine for an hour since. Sorry i know this isn't very specific but might save someone a 40 minute call to suppport
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Reference the dropouts and repeats, note that (from my observation) Sonos starts by connecting to the highest bit-rate HLS stream available for the station (eg 320kbps). If, for whatever reason, it deems that that stream is unreliable (eg buffer empties or too many retries at fetching the next HLS 'chunk', I imagine), then it eventually connects instead to the next highest rate stream (eg 256kbps). If this is running behind the first stream, you will hear a repeat of the content. This process continues until it finds a stable stream.

The only way to see what bitrate stream Sonos is currently playing is to dig in to the diagnostics, so all the listener will hear is the dropouts and possible repeats, and then when it stabilises, will believe that the problem has gone away when in fact it has only been masked by the switch to a lower bitrate.

I observed this happen with Radio 1 a couple of weeks ago, and it ran right down from 320kbps to 48kbps(!) until it stabilised. That's despite the fact that I could play the 320kbps stream reliably from my old minimstreamer workaround without any hitches. A possible explanation for that is that Minimstreamer seems to load a bigger buffer (up to 14s, I believe) than Sonos appears to.

Coincidentally (probably), my BBC streams were reliable until I installed an early, pre-general release, Apple Music beta. Now we have a public beta, I'll be interested to see if stability improves.
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Thanks for the detail in both of those last two replies. The explanation of what is happening when we see the dropouts and repeats is REALLY interesting because in order to fix any problem like this you first need to know why it's bahaving the way it is and the explanation of the system trying to find the fastest stable stream fits the symptoms perfectly. My setup is still stable ATM so am not going to touch anything for now!
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Okay so i called support and i've had better perfromance but i;m not entirely sure what fixed it. The guy said the hls system was stable so it MUST be my local system, and was in the middle of checking my connection from bridge to speakers when i, frankly, got bored and said i'd call back, being virtually certain this wasnt the issue due to being able to stream everything else perfectly.
HOWEVER, somewhere along the line something improved matters so here are the steps we went though, maybe it will help someone.
Do a Reset in the wifi settings in the sonos controller app.
Am sure you've deleted any radio station entries in sonos favourite or "my radio stations" and add them again. You need to do this on all the device you use to control sonos i think.
Restart the bridge and re add the speakers.
do yesterdays(?) update - no idea if this had a fix for this in it.
So yes, i did all of the above together and at some point it started working, or rather has been fine for an hour since. Sorry i know this isn't very specific but might save someone a 40 minute call to suppport


I have had no dropouts at all for 5 days now so it would appear the problem varies by location. Will post back her if I get any more dropouts.

I have also been suffering with BBC Radio dropouts over the last few days. I had hoped that the HLS problems were behind us.

Hi sagalout, nigelp, and richtann.
Sounds like you three are most likely experiencing wireless interference or network problems. Mind submitting a diagnostic within the first 20mins your system is giving you any trouble and reply with the diagnostic confirmation number. Here's an article explaining how: How to Submit Diagnostic
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Thanks Max, I will do as you suggest the next time I have an issue.
Out of the blue, I can't listen to BBC Radio London this morning - 'unsupported media format'. I could listen to it yesterday, and other BBC radio stream I have tried are okay. I can find no reference to BBC Radio London changing their stream format so I'm baffled.
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Possibly a side-effect of the BBC hack on Thursday .....
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No problem with 6 Music here.