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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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BBC streaming
Thank you chriswizz and Withanee; The BBC Radio 4 TuneIn url was the reason it was constantly cutting out. Radiofeeds.co.uk has been rock steady for 2 days. (Also has a 320kbps alternatives and LW)
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BBC still a joke on my system but these feeds are a fantastic fix. Thanks to the posters.

A friend of mine down the road here in Liverpool was having similar problems with BBC radio streams (always dropping out). At the time we were both Virgin Media customers. He swapped to Sky a couple of months ago and his BBC streaming problems have gone away. I'm still with Virgin Media and the problems persist. I definitely think there is an ISP-related issue....

Either that or there is a setting in the default router setup that could be tweaked to assist the BBC streaming.
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I wasn't aware that the BBC had made any recent changes. If they have that hasn't been mentioned by Sonos in these threads.

Sonos - Is this true?

BTW John Boy1970. I've heard some feeble excuses for poor Popmaster scores in my time but this one takes the biscuit. I bet the dog also ate your homework eh?!
This is a work around for the problem provided by Withanee on another thread. It worked for me
There is an alternative to using Tunein to connect to the radio station - you can set up any (compatible) internet radio stream as a custom radio station in Sonos. You need to use the desktop Sonos controller (not phone or tablet app) then Manage>Add Radio Station...> then enter the URL for the stream and give it a name. It will then appear as a station under Radio>My Radio Stations>. This method has one big advantage over using the Tunein directory service - for stations with multiple streams at different bit rates, Tunein tells Sonos to use the first playable stream that it comes across, even if that's the lowest bitrate stream! So, before the recent BBC radio omnishambles, I used this method to make sure I always connected to the 128mbps AAC streams - Tunein often served up the 48kbps ones! The only downside is you lose the station logo and "what's playing" text.
This url is to a playlist which redirects to the BBC mp3 audio stream itself (which has a much longer URL...). To find similar urls for other channels, go here http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/query.asp?feedme=bbc , go to the mp3 list and hover your mouse over the "128kpbs" button to display the url Copy that into Sonos (most are obvious, eg replacing "bbradio4fm" with "bbcradio4lw", etc.

http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbc5live.pls
http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbc5livesportsextra.pls

http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbcradio2.pls
http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbcradio4fm.pls
http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbcradio4extra.pls


I've been on to support via phone this morning as I've been having a nightmare with Radio 2 constantly dropping out. They explained that having previously provided a fix for the BBC streams, BBC have modified them AGAIN requiring a further fix which is being worked on. They've got me to update the diagnostic levels on my system & requested after playing the stream again I submit a further diagnostic when the dropouts occur.

Ten minutes after rebooting system & restarting streams I was still getting dropouts on Radio 2 when I found this thread. I've just added the URL for Radio 2 into my radio stations in the desktop app & it's now seems to be working a treat! So glad I found this as my score on Ken Bruce's Popmaster was going down the pan as I was missing most of the questions.
This is a work around for the problem provided by Withanee on another thread. It worked for me
There is an alternative to using Tunein to connect to the radio station - you can set up any (compatible) internet radio stream as a custom radio station in Sonos. You need to use the desktop Sonos controller (not phone or tablet app) then Manage>Add Radio Station...> then enter the URL for the stream and give it a name. It will then appear as a station under Radio>My Radio Stations>. This method has one big advantage over using the Tunein directory service - for stations with multiple streams at different bit rates, Tunein tells Sonos to use the first playable stream that it comes across, even if that's the lowest bitrate stream! So, before the recent BBC radio omnishambles, I used this method to make sure I always connected to the 128mbps AAC streams - Tunein often served up the 48kbps ones! The only downside is you lose the station logo and "what's playing" text.

This url is to a playlist which redirects to the BBC mp3 audio stream itself (which has a much longer URL...). To find similar urls for other channels, go here http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/query.asp?feedme=bbc , go to the mp3 list and hover your mouse over the "128kpbs" button to display the url Copy that into Sonos (most are obvious, eg replacing "bbradio4fm" with "bbcradio4lw", etc.

http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbc5live.pls
http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbc5livesportsextra.pls

http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbcradio2.pls
http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbcradio4fm.pls
http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/bbcradio4extra.pls
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After 9 months of trouble-free BBC streaming, it is happening again whenever we try to listen to BBC Radio 4. Drop outs can last 30 to 45 seconds. When I collocated my Bose SoundTouch 20 to sit alongside my Playbar, the BBC stream to the Soundtouch is uninterrupted. This is not a wifi issue. Report No: 6426522
I have also experienced drop outs to the point of BBC Radio being unusable over the past two weeks. I have removed the stations from my favourites and added them back but no improvement.
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Ryan has basically said there is a problem with bbc HLS streaming.
"The team here's looking into HLS issues pretty intensely right now"

https://en.community.sonos.com/ask-a-question-228987/bbc-working-fine-and-then-6738338/index2.html

It would be nice to know what support are "looking into", to stop multiple cross posts on here.
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Interruptions back with a vengeance yesterday. Heaven knows why it worked well for over an hour a few days ago but it was a false daw. Clearly there is still some sort of issue here. Spotify and other services all work fine. Just BBC radio stations.
Would be interested to know which ISPs are supplying the people experiencing the problem? I'm with Virgin media using the new super hub 2ac. Just wondering if there may be some sort of network config issue. So far I've turned off the firewall and even the 5g mode with no improvement.
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I have had the same issue for around two weeks. The HLS stream support has been working great until now, but now it's unusable again; like before the great HLS switch over.
I can listen to other radio stations on the Sonos, and can stream Netflix / Amazon Prime / BBC iPlayer video services on other devices in the house, so I am certain my network and ISP are not at fault. As a final proof, I can use BBC Live radio streams without a problem on my laptop and various phones around the house using WiFi.
This problem is only Sonos and BBC Radio. Please, Sonos, believe us when we say there is a problem here.
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I reconfigured my network, deleted Radio 2 reselected it and it seems to be working again - although my wife says it might have dropped out this morning. But definitely a lot better.
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I received an email from Sonos support last week saying they hope to have a fix for this issue by August. See what happens....

Really?

Do share as Sonos do not appear to have acknowledged any universal BBC issue. I for one have not had a single BBC issue for many months and listen to it a LOT.
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I've just tuned back into BBC Radio 5 and BBC Radio 6 for the first time in a week and the problem has seemingly cleared. Over an hour of uninterrupted streaming!
I logged back in here to see if anyone else is having any joy, unfortunately mvosloo is showing my fix is not entirely universal.

I received an email from Sonos support last week saying they hope to have a fix for this issue by August. See what happens....
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I had this problem over a year ago and with the updates it all sorted itself out. However, I have just moved from Scotland to Wales and now the problem is back with a vengeance! Constant dropouts often for minutes at a time - trying to listen to BBC Radio 2 is a nightmare.
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No. I just go through their help center link on their web page and select contact us. Have received responses in less than 24 hrs each time and in 90% of cases they have understood the issue straight away. Impressive customer service compared to what you normally get these days.
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I will say this for Tunein, their customer service is very responsive. After going around the houses a bit explaining what the problem was they have escalated the issue and hopefully will have it sorted soon.

I sent them a message some weeks ago and had no response whatsoever - Are you a Premium member of TuneIn?
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I will say this for Tunein, their customer service is very responsive. After going around the houses a bit explaining what the problem was they have escalated the issue and hopefully will have it sorted soon.
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I have a workaround but it would be better if I could just access it through Sonos like I should be able to, then I don't have to keep explaining how to find things for family members
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Do you not have a sonos line in for a chromecast audio?
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The first few weeks after Sonos switched to HLS I experienced a few drop outs and also what sounded like someone speaking underwater. Searching again would find a good stream which would last a while and then drop out again. Since then I have had no problems with the streams either for the main channels 1-6 or local BBC radio stations. I live on the West Coast of the US.
What I do have a problem with is that Tunein consistently fails to list programs for the listen again feature. Currently I seem to have problems searching for programs on BBC Radio 4 Extra. I will Sonos had a direct link to the BBC data rather than relying on a 3rd party like Tunein.
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I replied on this thread as well because this seems like the main thread, and I have only just come across it. Thought it would be best to share my experience with other users suffering the same issues.
If BBC 2 and 5 are set as favorites, you may be still using the old, almost unlistenable streams. Try playing BBC 2 and 5 from the channel search. If that is better, delete your favorites and re-add to get the HLS versions.
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You posted the same thing on another thread and I'm going to post my response below as it may inform others. In a nutshell I am very surprised a Sonos tech support has told you that re HLS streams and maybe one of the Sonos people will respond here.

Really? You do surprise me. The BBC did indeed change some 18 months ago to HLS streaming which by the time Sonos had managed to fix meant that BBC stations were un listenable to. But some months ago Sonos introduced a fix for the HLS streams. So I am at a loss to understand why they would point the finger at the HLS streams.

Presumably you are running the latest 6.3 Software? If you are and the rest of your network is perfect I can only think somehow the streams are being throttled either by lack of bandwidth or firewall - Maybe your ISP is playing silly buggers?

Hope you get it sorted but I have virtually zero confidence this is a Sonos issue per se (IE Nowt to do with HLS streams).
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You can add me to the list of users who is finding playing live BBC stations through tunein is like pulling teeth. Utterly futile. Constant drop outs on BBC radio 2 and 5 live. (Every 30seconds).
I can confirm that the problem does not happen with other radio stations listened through tunein, which is baffling. The HLS saga probably explains this, although I'm running an up to version, IE Sonos 6.3, on all 4 of my Sonos speakers so go figure
Spotify and Google Play music also work fine. Faultless.
The word from the sonos support staff this week was there was nothing they could do, and the BBC need to change their streaming protocol. Until then it's tough s**t. Not what I'd expect to hear from a tech company that specialises in streaming music.

Sonos sort this out! I've gone from being one of your champions to telling people not to buy your gear. Your brand is being damaged.
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Stuart, thanks for the quick response, although you must get tired of telling everyone that complains about this problem that they're wrong! ;)
I will do as you suggest, but can you please offer a plausible suggestion as to why those of us who think we're having this issue, only see it with BBC live radio streams? FWIW, one of my Sonos units is linked via Homeplug to the router, which I think would reduce the probability of wifi interference or IP conflicts.


I'm not telling them they don't have a problem. Actually I'm not a network expert but having a Sonos unit connected via Homeplug is not going to reduce the chance of an IP conflict and I am suspicious that it may not actually be the same as wiring directly to the router. Would definitely be worth removing that connection and see if that makes a difference