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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

Possibly a side-effect of the BBC hack on Thursday .....

Possibly. I am having problems with their website. But then I have no problems with any other BBC stream (not that I've tried them all!) and I can listen to BBC Radio London from their web stream.
A hiccup perhaps? It's working now, no real idea why.

I played the stream directly from TuneIn via the web, went back to Sonos and it played fine. Coincidence I think. I can't imagine that my playing via TuneIn web resolved the issue.
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Any idea when the "on demand" BBC HLS streams will be available through Sonos?
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Early 2016
Any idea when the "on demand" BBC HLS streams will be available through Sonos?

When it's ready.
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We don't have an officially announced date for the on demand content, but we'll let everyone know as soon as we do. Thanks for asking.
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Thanks Ryan. I realize there is no announced date. Was hoping more for a ballpark eg 1st Qtr, 2nd Qtr...
Have no answer to spouse's question as to how it is a available through her iPad tunein app but not through tunein through Sonos. When you didnt suppprt HLS I had an easy answer.
Thanks Ryan. I realize there is no announced date. Was hoping more for a ballpark eg 1st Qtr, 2nd Qtr...
Have no answer to spouse's question as to how it is a available through her iPad tunein app but not through tunein through Sonos. When you didnt suppprt HLS I had an easy answer.


Because there's clearly a lot more work involved to get the on-demand content working, if it was as easy as the live content they'd have done it at the same time.
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Yes but that's the same reason I give her for not hanging that picture in the hallway yet 🙂
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Yes but that's the same reason I give her for not hanging that picture in the hallway yet :)

Well you know what they say. If a man says he'll do something then he will. There's no need to nag him every 6 months about it!
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Done! Today 🙂
Forgive me if I have missed something but I have just ploughed through 900+ replies on this post but I never found the answer

Should I be able to listen to local sport (football) on BBC radio Cambridgeshire? from what I have read on this thread it gives the impression that I now can,
but despite removing BBC Radio Cambridgeshire from my Sonos Favourites and going through Tunein and re-adding it to my favourites, I still get the dreaded
BBC announcer explaining 'that due to rights issues I can't listen to local sport' on a loop. If this is still a work in progress then I will keep waiting but don't want to be missing out just because I'm doing something wrong
Forgive me if I have missed something but I have just ploughed through 900+ replies on this post but I never found the answer

Should I be able to listen to local sport (football) on BBC radio Cambridgeshire? from what I have read on this thread it gives the impression that I now can,
but despite removing BBC Radio Cambridgeshire from my Sonos Favourites and going through Tunein and re-adding it to my favourites, I still get the dreaded
BBC announcer explaining 'that due to rights issues I can't listen to local sport' on a loop. If this is still a work in progress then I will keep waiting but don't want to be missing out just because I'm doing something wrong


I might be wrong but I don't think the BBC allows any sport on its internet streams, so no, I don't think you can.
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Access depends on where Tunein thinks you are - UK or non-UK
Access depends on where Tunein thinks you are - UK or non-UK

If I go to Local radio via the sonos software on my laptop it says Local Radio (Cambridge) which would make me think
that Tunein thinks I am in Cambridge
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One way to check if it's the BBC, Tunein or your ISP would be to go to the BBC iPlayer Radio .

I just checked and Saturday Sport at 15:00 was NOT available on line - looks like a blanket ban on all local football reports. Looks like you need a DAB radio!
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Hi

BBC radio 2 still cuts out for me, suddenly just stops and then resumes again after 5 or so seconds.

Its not my internet as every other station what I play is perfectly fine, its only happening with radio 2.

Im on the latest beta.
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Hi

BBC radio 2 still cuts out for me, suddenly just stops and then resumes again after 5 or so seconds.

Its not my internet as every other station what I play is perfectly fine, its only happening with radio 2.

Im on the latest beta.


Please make sure you have removed Radio 2 from your Radio Stations AND your favourites. Then search for it again and re-add it. If you still get issues then you need let us know and detail if you have issues with other stations or other music sources or services.
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Hi

BBC radio 2 still cuts out for me, suddenly just stops and then resumes again after 5 or so seconds.

Its not my internet as every other station what I play is perfectly fine, its only happening with radio 2.

Im on the latest beta.


Please make sure you have removed Radio 2 from your Radio Stations AND your favourites. Then search for it again and re-add it. If you still get issues then you need let us know and detail if you have issues with other stations or other music sources or services.



Hi

Yep done all that, its only Radio 2 that does it.

cheers
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Suggest you run a diagnostic next time it drops and post here and/or contact Sonos support with it.
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Suggest you run a diagnostic next time it drops and post here and/or contact Sonos support with it.

Excellent suggestion. The new HLS streams are a lot more reliable than the older converted ones, in general there shouldn't be trouble with the stations. Most likely there's something local to your environment we can help resolve, the diagnostic will help a lot. Just to help not spam everyone in this thread, can you make a new topic and include your diagnostic there? We'll help troubleshoot there.
I was on Beta and about a week ago BBC Radio 2 stream started repeating itself. The only fix that worked was to leave the Beta programme to get a stable stream from Radio 2
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I was on Beta and about a week ago BBC Radio 2 stream started repeating itself. The only fix that worked was to leave the Beta programme to get a stable stream from Radio 2

Thanks for sharing. Did you send in beta feedback through the app and let the team know about the trouble? When on a beta program it's always best to let them know if any issues come up.
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11 months!!! That's how long this thread has been going on for.
Please please checking in for updates on the BBC listen again features... I getting a bit bored of checking back in to find there has been no movement. I used to tell people how good Sonos was. Now I tell them how Sonos don't respond to their customers, their product doesn't offer native support for the biggest content provider in the UK. I used to recommend Sonos to everyone now I tell people to stay away from it. 1 year should be long enough to sort this out. We will have self driving cars before Sobos finds a way to keep BBC listen agin through their system at this rate.
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11 months!!! That's how long this thread has been going on for.
Please please checking in for updates on the BBC listen again features... I getting a bit bored of checking back in to find there has been no movement. I used to tell people how good Sonos was. Now I tell them how Sonos don't respond to their customers, their product doesn't offer native support for the biggest content provider in the UK..


Yes, I've been checking this thread every other week and I've got to say that I'm running out of patience and this is seriously beginning to hack me off. I'm afraid to say that I too am no longer the Sonos evangelist I once was - The ability to use my Sonos systems with the BBC catch-up programmes was one of the key reasons I purchased them. I feel let down that this has been missing for so long and I feel we're strung along, I've tried work-arounds with additional devices going into my line-ins but they're hassles and compromises which go against the simplicity and user experience of Sonos.

Please can we have a meaningful official update with a clear indication of timescale for resolution?