back to article BBC bins pricey Windows Media, Audio Factory goes live

The BBC's Audio Factory goes live today, bringing with it the end of streaming audio over Windows Media. The broadcaster flagged the demise of Windows Media last year, when it also announced Audio Factory, a streaming tool delivering audio in the AAC codec over http. Audio Factory aims to standardise Auntie's audio delivery …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And if....

    ..you could just kill flash, all will be well.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: And if....

      Can I add client-side Java to your list?

      PLEASE!

      1. Mike Bell

        Re: And if....

        @AMBxx

        Interested. Where do the BBC use client-side Java?

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: And if....

          Maybe they've got some old IBM HotMedia applets still kicking around? (Yeah, I worked on that for nearly it's whole life-cycle)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And if....

        I think they used to use in on the cbbeebies and CCBC website, but think it went a while ago.

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Facepalm

      That's a shame.

      I love listening to audio through windows media, running ie under vista streamed from azure on leap years.

  2. xperroni
    Windows

    I thought I'd never see the day...

    ...when something from Microsoft would be evaluated on the basis of what the rest of the world is doing, and not the other way around.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: I thought I'd never see the day...

      Microsoft VC1 was evaluated on what the rest of the world had already patented. Didn't end well for Microsoft's wallet!

  3. AMBxx Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Squezebox

    My Squeezebox stopped working last night for all the national stations. Still works for local. Supports non-wma, just Beeb not sending them properly.

    wma may be hated for being MS technology, but it's great for low bitrate streams.

    1. Martin Silver badge

      Re: Squezebox

      Mine too.

      They've give us an mp3 stream which buffers repeatedly. Clearly they've completely underestimated just how many people out there are using this stuff.

      Roberts radios are also affected, I believe.

      Can you imagine the outcry if they'd switched off analogue delivery of TV with the same enthusiasm and speed?

      1. flokie

        Re: Squezebox

        I noticed this in my TuneIn app on my phone - they had a high bitrate AAC stream for Radio 3, but now the BBC is only providing two unreliable 128k mp3 streams.

        I'm yet to try catching up on BBC radio shows with TuneIn - maybe I'll forgive them if these start to work as they never did before.

    2. Fuzz

      Re: Squezebox

      I'm guessing this is more down to the logitech media server not using the correct stream. Mine now plays an information message telling me about audio factory.

    3. Old Tom

      Re: Squezebox

      My Squeezebox Duet hit this problem yesterday, but I was set up to listen to BBC stations using the iPlayer plugin. Using the radio search for e.g. BBC Radio 4 got me connected back up and streaming via TuneIn.

      Also, it now gives me a customised-to-the-show icon and the show's name.

    4. Anonymous Bullard

      Re: Squezebox

      wma may be hated for being MS technology, but it's great for low bitrate streams.

      Well if it wasn't proprietary, it might still have been viable.

    5. Andrew Richards

      Re: Squezebox

      Re: Squeezebox and all thing Logitech Media Server - everything will still work!

      It's a one-off faff but use the Search under Radio for "BBC" - the streams found here work perfectly (did this and reset favourite buttons and all okay).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be nice if they told you where to find the alternatives

    They have plenty of iPlayer Help pages "helpfully" telling you that the Windows Media streams are being discontinued, but nowhere can I see anything as helpful as a link to where the new AAC streams are. Presumably I'm not meant to want to use VLC or similar, just their lovely browser pop-up player?

    1. Gordon 11

      Re: Would be nice if they told you where to find the alternatives

      but nowhere can I see anything as helpful as a link to where the new AAC streams are.

      Have a look at:

      http://www.listenlive.eu/uk.html

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Would be nice if they told you where to find the alternatives

        Have a look at:

        http://www.listenlive.eu/uk.html

        That's all very well, but like the ones on radiofeeds.co.uk they just have the "legacy device" 128kbps MP3 URIs.

        According to their blog the BBC is only providing the AAC stream URIs to device manufacturers, and is deliberately withholding them from the public as a matter of policy, so that they can tell which devices people are using! What a ridiculous decision.

  5. Jeremy Sanders

    I don't mind about losing WMA, but it wasn't nice of the BBC to just kill the AAC shoutcast streams with no warning. It wouldn't be so bad if they actually published the URLs of the new streams themselves, but we have to rely on radiofeed.co.uk to find the MP3 stream address.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      It was trailed widely in advance.

      1. ChaoticMike

        I don't think it was. Trailed? Yes. Widely? A single post buried in the mass of the Interweb, and which makes no comment about termination of higher nitrate AAC streams.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          ome on, the notice was on display in the BBC's HQ, in an unlighted room in the basement, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard".

  6. HmmmYes

    Dammit. Another weekend of shouting at get_iplayer

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      v2.9.1 works as flawlessly you might expect (where v2.9.0 didn't). Apparently, obviously.

    2. Salts

      @HmmmYes

      Know what you mean, however spare a thought for Dinky Pumpkin :-)

  7. Terje

    Am I just stupid or is there something fishy here, first they move stuff to AAC, fine standardising. then they cancel shoutcast in the same format they standardise on, what am I missing here?

  8. An0n C0w4rd

    "Here is what we are doing, you will support it"

    I like the bit at the end of the article that implies the BBC thinks that it is up to device manufacturers to support the way they are delivering content, rather than the BBC selecting already widely supported formats and distribution mechanisms.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: "Here is what we are doing, you will support it"

      So by dropping an old proprietary format (WMA) and moving to a widely used more open one (AAC) is not selecting widely supported formats how exactly?

      1. Jeff Deacon

        Re: "Here is what we are doing, you will support it"

        So by dropping an old proprietary format (WMA) and moving to a widely used more open one (AAC) is not selecting widely supported formats how exactly?

        Because they are wrapping it up in Apple's proprietary HLS, that is how!

  9. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    And what about on-demand?

    One of the nice things about my Roberts Radio (and one of the reasons for buying it) was that it did on-demand for BBC radio. Great at 3am when you want something amusing to listen to on Radio 4 Extra. I can at least reprogramme it to get the mp3 live streams, but what about on demand? Now I have to fire up a tablet and use the blasted iPlayer. Shame on you BBC.

    1. Mystic Megabyte
      Linux

      Re: And what about on-demand?

      get_iplayer --pvr also does radio quite nicely. Bona stream?

      https://squarepenguin.co.uk/guides/get_iplayer-pvr-guide/

  10. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    This is a real omnishambles.

    For example, the publicly funded BBC is relying on 'hidden' URLs to obfuscate access to the "HD Stream" 320kbps AAC stream used by Radio 3.

    Public money + secret URLs? That can't be right!

    The BBC is rightly taking a beating on their blog - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/entries/977a1954-658f-4fb2-a23c-71680c49882f

  11. Cuddles Silver badge

    Standardised?

    "Audio Factory, a streaming tool delivering audio in the AAC codec over http. Audio Factory aims to standardise Auntie's audio delivery practices and infrastructure."

    "The broadcaster is also ceasing SHOUTcast streams that use the AAC codec, replacing them with an MP3 version of the services."

    So on the one hand, it's moving everything to AAC format, but on the other hand it's moving things away from AAC and using mp3 instead. Apparently this is some definition of "standard" I wasn't previously aware of.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Standardised?

      They wanted to provide all streaming services by Audio Factory but they say it's too costly to run mp3 and AAC streams at the same time and some devices can't do AAC.

      So they've kept some mp3 streams with some Shoutcast servers for those devices.

      They also didn't publicise the Audio Factory links so everybody used the Shoutcast links.

      Result - Shoutcast servers overloaded and many streams appear missing to many devices.

      Bit of a mess.

    2. I Am Spartacus

      Re: Standardised?

      @Cuddles

      That's the beauty of standards. There are so many to choose from.

  12. Alan Denman

    So what was the exact cost, I cannot see any but for ..

    File conversion being automated I can't quite see any cost at all there.

    So are Microsoft fees causing self death ?

    Come on MS make it open source.

  13. Alan Denman

    BBC to kill my Boom type box internet radio?

    Seems Radio 1 works, 48 WMA.

    I do not think it does aac so what soon ?

    1. Andrew Richards

      Re: BBC to kill my Boom type box internet radio?

      If you mean Squeezebox Boom it'll work as the server does the transcoding. (If not a Logitech device YMMV).

  14. Crisp

    If your hardware is rusting...

    Then what the hell does your server room look like?

    1. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      Re: If your hardware is rusting...

      "Then what the hell does your server room look like?"

      In a frantic effort to save £500,000 from the BBC's annual IT budget, BBC management have spent £1.5 million on consultancy reports and spending reviews...

      ...and have decided to relocate the contents of the BBC data centre to the old Blue Peter Garden.

      1. Anonymous Bullard

        Re: If your hardware is rusting...

        to save £500,000 from the BBC's annual IT budget, BBC management have spent £1.5 million

        So in 3 years they'll break even. What's your issue with that?

        (based on your figures)

        1. Vic

          Re: If your hardware is rusting...

          So in 3 years they'll break even. What's your issue with that?

          In two years, they'll do it all again... :-(

          Vic.

  15. Alan Denman

    And Radio 3 needs to be kicked off FM

    Radio 6 gets the listeners so why the complete lack of democracy here ?

    Radio 3 can move to DAB, Cloud etc etc so that the main public can rightly get Radio 6 in the car

    1. Tweetiepooh
      Happy

      Re: And Radio 3 needs to be kicked off FM

      Nope, don't have DAB and main stations I want are Radios 2,3,4 and Classic FM. All that nasty pop stuff should be pushed to AM where it belongs!

    2. flokie

      Re: And Radio 3 needs to be kicked off FM

      6 music is fab, and it's not competing with Radio 3. Kick Radio 2 off FM if you like, not 3.

      The following may not be valid if you mostly listen to BBC6 daytime through the week, but if you're into the more weird and wonderful on 6, chances are you will find plenty to like in Radio 3's Late Junction.

    3. s. pam
      Flame

      Re: And Radio 3 needs to be kicked off FM

      Bullshit, there are a lot of us that live in areas that DAB doesn't get to.

      Kill off BBC Asia and other rubbish channels!

    4. gcla72
      Megaphone

      Re: And Radio 3 needs to be kicked off FM

      The BBC is a PUBLIC service, paid for by a licence fee* - not a god** given right. It is not ITV. The fact X gets more viewers/listeners than Y does not mean the BBC should disregard Y. I have never listened to Radio 3. Since when did you become the sole arbitrator of democracy and decry which services are relegated to DAB alone? Buy a DAB radio for your car, no one is stopping you.

      The BBC is also not a democracy. ITV is.. if no one watches then the programme is cancelled. Having said that the BBC should be embracing non proprietary systems or not bothering at all. The trouble is OSS has no DRM so they really should have thought about it all before they opened the can of worms.

      *I do not pay a licence fee because I am quite happy to wait a few hours and watch/listen for free until they sort themselves/the law out.

      ** may not actually exist

  16. Alan Denman

    from the blog ....

    "We have been communicating our plans to manufacturers and aggregators for the last 12 months "

    It is a very funny old world when you can get away with culling newer tech but keep old FM and MW going for near forever

    1. Andrew Richards

      Re: from the blog ....

      Only if newer technology is better. DAB is newer than FM but much, much worse. Dump FM for DAB and the result is lots of redundant car radios and poorer sound.

      1. Wilseus

        Re: from the blog ....

        Only if newer technology is better. DAB is newer than FM but much, much worse.

        While that's true as things stand now, DAB sounds bad only because there's too many stations crammed into the available bandwidth.

        I suppose it's analogous to the fact that most FM stations sound poor themselves because of the aggressive dynamic range compression the broadcasters apply to their transmissions. This issue could have easily been addressed with DAB in such a way that everyone would have been happy, but no...

        1. Vic

          Re: from the blog ....

          DAB sounds bad only because there's too many stations crammed into the available bandwidth.

          Only in the very broadest sense...

          DAB - not DAB+, just DAB, as we use in the UK - uses the MP2 codec, which is shite. We all complain about MP3 artefacts, but MP2 is significantly worse.

          Now I *suspect* that, given enough bandwidth. you could make MP2 sound OK. But we don't have that much bandwidth available. We have enough bandwidth for AAC or MP3 - but that would mean DAB+, which we don't use.

          Vic.

  17. s. pam
    Flame

    NOW FUCKING KILL FLASH !!!

    BBC get a clue - Flash is the Ebola virus, the HIV virus, and all other virus' in one.

    KILL IT NOW, it is 20++ year old, security bug riddled crap.

    1. Vic
      Joke

      Re: NOW FUCKING KILL FLASH !!!

      Flash is the Ebola virus, the HIV virus, and all other virus' in one

      Ah. We have a Flash fan :-)

      Vic.

  18. roddie digital
    Thumb Down

    Truck off

    Well, that's killed the Radio 4 stream I was using for Euro Truck Simulator 2...

  19. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Squeezebox issues here.

    Some open feeds noted on the slimdevices forum. I used these to update my favourites. The iPlayer plugin seems to read the location of the streams from the bbc xml, which (weirdly) point to the recorded message.

  20. andy gibson

    XBOX360 iplayer radio?

    Is this why iPlayer radio isn't working on the Xbox 360? I tried and although it showed a wide range of programmes, all were unavailable.

  21. g e

    "facing significant cuts in its funding"

    Eh? the license fee is being reduced???

    Somehow I doubt that's the funding cut that's meant

    1. Old Tom
      Boffin

      Re: "facing significant cuts in its funding"

      The licence fee has not gone up for 5 years. That's a significant real-terms cut.

  22. akira9

    Alt streams

    Be worth keeping an eye on radiofeeds.co.uk for any additional streams that maybe available. I hate having to use various clients that sites use, and prefer to use something like VLC or Winamp for the streams.

  23. scote

    wait, when did the real-player streams disappear?

    Now canned another M$ codec, good riddance. There ought to be something better than mp3 128k in this day and age, isn't AAC much better at quality on lower bitrates?

    For all you squeezebox users, logitech runs their own server that feeds off tunein so when better streams become available they can be added.

    Most most of the other interwebs radio devices they use vtuner, there is a way to add private stations once the new urls get discovered if vtuner doesn't add them itself

    the instructions for my denon are in the manual

  24. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    From the blog

    "These are still very early days for Audio Factory and we have been very focussed on getting the service live. There are still some local stations in mono, and our full range of bit rates and delivery methods have yet to be rolled out. "

    And did it not occur to anyone that the time to close down what was already working was after the new version was fully rolled out?

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