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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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Thanks for checking back so regularly guys, we appreciate you being so engaged. We're working to get the on demand HLS content ready for radio streams right now. Development is still on track and we'll let everyone know when there's more details to share. Also, we'll let you know if there are any opportunities for beta testing this before it's fully released as well.
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Thanks Ryan - it is reassuring to get an official SONOS input on this issue. This is a major limitation of SONOS for countless numbers of its users worldwide . I first raised it three years ago. Can you please make this the company's number one priority. How about a promise to provide full BBC access by July 1st THIS year??
Thanks Ryan - it is reassuring to get an official SONOS input on this issue. This is a major limitation of SONOS for countless numbers of its users worldwide . I first raised it three years ago.

Really? That's impressive, given the BBC only introduced HLS streaming last year. How did you know they were going to break it two years in advance?
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To the LHC .... lets cut the condescending and disrespectful comments , to what are just other Sonos customers asking for answers . For the record I've had a Sonos system for over 3 years and always struggled to get BBC listen again streams , and looking back at the dates of others complaints so did many others !
I think the point you're missing is that whatever problems there may have been three years ago (and I never had any issues with BBC listen again or podcasts or whatever they were calling it back then), they were nothing to do with HLS streaming, which is what this thread is about, as that wasn't being used back then, so Yarrow's comment wasn't relevant, although it was amusing for the claim that he was the first to report this issue before it even happened.
@Thelhc maybe he meant 2 years ago (BBC announced this Sept 2014) and misspoke because it feels like 3 years? Or actually asked about hls 3 years ago?

BBC is also using DASH now, better get working on that so it is ready in the distant future.
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It's probably me but such ill, and often ill-informed, feeling about something that is free. Free. Have I got this right. A free service provided by someone that is not Sonos. This FREE service has obvioulsy needed some work.
Did I mention a sense of perspective over a FREE service.
Requests for a good working version of BBC listen again have been around for more than 3 years, whether HLS streams or what preceded HLS. For me and many others the TuneIn version was patchy with regards to what it listed and whether when listed a particular stream would work.
I came to Sonos more than 6 years ago from Squeezebox and one of the limitations of Sonos over Squeezebox then, and I believe even now was the interface into and the reliability of how the BBC iPlayer streams worked. Lots of other aspects of Sonos made it a much better choice over Squeezebox, and I get round the BBC iPlayer problem using Airplay or Chromecast.
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Requests for a good working version of BBC listen again have been around for more than 3 years, whether HLS streams or what preceded HLS. For me and many others the TuneIn version was patchy with regards to what it listed and whether when listed a particular stream would work.
I came to Sonos more than 6 years ago from Squeezebox and one of the limitations of Sonos over Squeezebox then, and I believe even now was the interface into and the reliability of how the BBC iPlayer streams worked. Lots of other aspects of Sonos made it a much better choice over Squeezebox, and I get round the BBC iPlayer problem using Airplay or Chromecast.


Ahh well yes, therein does lie a different story you're right.

When the BBC changed to streaming their radio channels using HLS essentially breaking them for those of us listening via Sonos. Somebody at Sonos/BBC dropped the ball and I believe Sonos were also somewhat taken aback at the level of upset this caused (This is my own opinion and may or may not be correct!).
Sonos eventually were able to fix the issue for streaming (live) radio stations but not for listen again content. There were hints earlier last year that the work Sonos was doing with the BBC might, I say might, lead to some king of Iplayer Radio integration but it became clear last year (this year?) that the first fix for BBC listen again would be to repair the play via Tunein - I don't know when this will happen but we know it is being worked on,so fingers crossed.

Now this is what I alluded to at the start - the integration of podcasts into Sonos is clunky at best. Honestly I don't know if that is Sonos' fault or the fact that nobody has written their own API to allow podcast integration - I suspect there isn't much money in it is the bottom line. So podcast experience is nowhere near as satisfying as it could or even should be.

However, for this 51 year old Sonos is actually some kind of voodoo magic - when I were a lad when Top of the pops came on us lads at the Boarding School who were into Duran Duran , Blondie or such like would all crowd into the TV room at 7:30 pm (right in the middle of prep so a treat!). Because if you missed it that was it. You would never see it again.

Let us not forget how amazingly lucky and privileged we all are.
Admittedly, I haven't been through all 38 pages, and I can't remember the exact thread I was following when this all started. However, what's really driving me insand about the on demand BBC content availability issue is that I can now get past shows on my Tunein Radio app, but still can't get them through the Sonos system.
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Is it just me or is the BBC Radio 4 stream via Tunein being flaky again ?
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George - yes that is the part we are waiting on from Sonos. On Demand Content that is in the TuneIn Radio app and not on Sonos. That is what should be coming soon.
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Nobody else suffering with drop out on BBC Radio 4 via Tunein and Sonos ? It been unlistenable for last couple of weeks. .I had thought the issues of stream change had been resolved last year but right now BBC Radio 4 is as bad as ever. Im not seeing the "noise" that there was last year on the forum this year so is it just me ?

Sonos is working perfectly on other stations and from my NAS so not an internal problem.
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Nobody else suffering with drop out on BBC Radio 4 via Tunein and Sonos ? It been unlistenable for last couple of weeks. .I had thought the issues of stream change had been resolved last year but right now BBC Radio 4 is as bad as ever. Im not seeing the "noise" that there was last year on the forum this year so is it just me ?

Sonos is working perfectly on other stations and from my NAS so not an internal problem.


No. I listen to Radio 4 as my bedroom alarm and it comes on in my kitchen. Then listen to quite a bit in the evenings. Haven't had any drop-outs.

So, despite the fact you aren't experiencing issues with other stations, it IS likely an issue with IP conflicts or interference.


Try a reset of your system - IE switch off router and all Sonos AND ALL network devices (NAS, PHONES< TAblets etc). Then switch router on, wait for it to connect, then Bridge or Boost if you have it, wait then switch on Sonos Speakers then all the other network devices.


Fingers crossed that sorts it out.
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Good news everyone. We've just started testing Sonos version 6.3 in an open beta which includes HLS recorded support. This means if you'd like to test out the software, you should see all the BBC recorded shows (listen again content) available on TuneIn on Sonos again. If you’d like to test it out, Sonos version 6.3 is now available for Android devices, Mac and Windows PCs. There is no iOS version at this time.

See here for more details on the 6.3 beta.
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This is great news for the BBC catch up fans.

Just a BIG watch out - TuneIn are NOT returning very good results at the moment. EG The Archers just now only returned 3 episodes! This appears to be a BBC/TuneIn issue rather than Sonos/TuneIn.

IE TuneIn.com have the same problem
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Good callout Stuart. TuneIn is still our radio stream aggregator so we'll only be showing the streams they're listing in formats we can play. Now those formats include HLS.
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Good callout Stuart. TuneIn is still our radio stream aggregator so we'll only be showing the streams they're listing in formats we can play. Now those formats include HLS.

Just pointing out that the timing is unfortunate that just as Sonos can now play the BBC HLS podcast/catch-up streams TuneIn is having a mare and not returning proper BBC search results. Unfortunately this will look like a Sonos issue when people can't find the program they want. Albeit it is only Public Beta - but for anybody reading please be aware.
Nobody else suffering with drop out on BBC Radio 4 via Tunein and Sonos ? It been unlistenable for last couple of weeks. .I had thought the issues of stream change had been resolved last year but right now BBC Radio 4 is as bad as ever. Im not seeing the "noise" that there was last year on the forum this year so is it just me ?

Sonos is working perfectly on other stations and from my NAS so not an internal problem.


I have exactly the same problem. Until recently the BBC live radio channels on TuneIn have been flawless, and they are now unlistenable as you say - constant dropouts. All other channels are fine, as is the music from my Media server. Even though this doesn't point to wifi channel of IP address conflicts, I changed the wifi channel anyway, and gave the Sonos a new static IP address - it has made absolutely no difference

There can't be only two of us with this problem.......
Nobody else suffering with drop out on BBC Radio 4 via Tunein and Sonos ? It been unlistenable for last couple of weeks. .I had thought the issues of stream change had been resolved last year but right now BBC Radio 4 is as bad as ever. Im not seeing the "noise" that there was last year on the forum this year so is it just me ?

Sonos is working perfectly on other stations and from my NAS so not an internal problem.


I have exactly the same problem. Until recently the BBC live radio channels on TuneIn have been flawless, and they are now unlistenable as you say - constant dropouts. All other channels are fine, as is the music from my Media server. Even though this doesn't point to wifi channel of IP address conflicts, I changed the wifi channel anyway, and gave the Sonos a new static IP address - it has made absolutely no difference

There can't be only two of us with this problem.......


I just noticed a typo in my post above. It should read "Even though this doesn't point to wifi channel OR IP address conflicts..."
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Nobody else suffering with drop out on BBC Radio 4 via Tunein and Sonos ? It been unlistenable for last couple of weeks. .I had thought the issues of stream change had been resolved last year but right now BBC Radio 4 is as bad as ever. Im not seeing the "noise" that there was last year on the forum this year so is it just me ?

Sonos is working perfectly on other stations and from my NAS so not an internal problem.


I have exactly the same problem. Until recently the BBC live radio channels on TuneIn have been flawless, and they are now unlistenable as you say - constant dropouts. All other channels are fine, as is the music from my Media server. Even though this doesn't point to wifi channel of IP address conflicts, I changed the wifi channel anyway, and gave the Sonos a new static IP address - it has made absolutely no difference

There can't be only two of us with this problem.......


I'd urge you to submit a diagnostic the next time a station drops out and either call Sonos support or post it here.

Despite you assertions that you it must be a Sonos/Tunein/BBC issue it does seem unlikely as if it were there would be a very large number of very irate customers posting they can't listen to BBC stations - - I don't know if you know this but they are pretty popular!
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Hi Stuart,
here my most recent response to the issues I was having. But all is wonderful today as it has been for the last week or so. I'm not sure when it "healed" because I could not bare to listen to the BBC on my Sono system and only listened to my music on it.

Currently all resolved and working well. No stuttering or repeating and timing very close to terrestrial DAB. I did fiddle around (tried diffrent ones) with the streams and upgraded my router firmware but gave up as I did not manage to improve the situation. I continued listening to my music just not the BBC. My best guess is that the problem was in the the WAN side of things as there have been one or two intresting backhaul issues in my part of the world. If I were a betting man I would put money on misconfiguration. Good luck with yours. Mark

WILCO with the syslog if I experience long term issues again.
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@MarkEllis. I had rather assumed your problem had ameliorated as you hadn't posted for a week or so. My comments were aimed mainly at daveb99.

Fingers crossed your issues don't return
I am suffering from exactly the same issue. BBC Radio stations constantly drop out. This does not affect other radio stations or use of spotify / other music services. Only BBC Radio. Have taken all steps suggested by support team, have tried switching off all devices that could potentially cause interference. No effect. Support team are convinced this problem is a result of interference but the issue affects only BBC Radio. Other services / stations work perfectly well.

I'm certain that this is a BBC issue. However looks like our problem is that this is just not affecting a large number of listeners so I can kind of understand the support teams position. Zero progress made in fixing this so I'm ditching the sonos and replacing it with a music system that has streaming and an integrated DAB as well...it's a great shame
+1 for BBC radio drop-outs, but no problems with other services.
To those saying that this can't be a widespread problem as not more users complaining: this has been known about for years so, I'd given up looking.
Got all excited when I saw that a solution had apparently been found, but drop-outs continue.