BBC Listen Again Service as downloadable RealAudio Stream

November 7, 2009 at 7:10 pm 1 comment

How to get Real Player URLs for BBC Listen Again programmes? Go to the webpage iPlayer Real converter and turn the PID into a URL. This might not work forever as the BBC switched to Flash and wants to offer AAC and Windows Media streams instead of Real Audio. But for now the legacy Real Audio streams that can be downloaded and save with mplayer are still available.

Short version:

Go to bbc.co.uk and choose the program you want to listen to.

Find the iPlayer Progamme ID. (for example here was a link to “More: programme information” on some episode http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rw1t1#synopsis and the iPlayer Programme ID is b00rw1t1.

Go to http://www.iplayerconverter.co.uk/convert.aspx , paste the ID in the field and press convert.

Copy the link under: RealAudio –  URL to global RealAudio rm stream:

Download mplayer, start a console, move to the mplayer directory and execute

mplayer -dumpstream -dumpfile filename.ra [putcopiedURLhere]

  • This will create a RealAudio file filename.ra in the current directory.
  • If you replace “[putcopiedURLhere]” by the URL in the clipboard everything works fine. You don’t need any quotations marks and you have to replace the phrase [putcopiedURLhere] including the parenthesis. The console will, however, put out some error messages at the end as it will split the clipboard URL in four parts at the “&”s. It will then try to execute the latter parts that look like: “BBC-UID” or “pid”. This will fail. If you, however, have some procresses by this name, it would be safer (though 4 sec more work) to cut the last part from the clipboard URL before putting it in the command line.
  • Be sure to choose a different filename for the next file, so you don’t overwrite the first one.

My longer blog post:

Back in the days BBC used the RealPlayer for its Listen Again service. It supported inline use within the BBC website and streaming facilitating the standalone player. Then they created their BBC iPlayer which uses Adobe Flash. However, they still had a link to the .ram file which contains the link to the .ra RealAudio Stream.

But as you can read in the iPlayer help: Why am I no longer able to ‘Listen Again’ to BBC radio programmes on BBC iPlayer in RealMedia format? The BBC turned of the RealPlayer suppoert on 22 October 2009 – … officially.

On the BBC Internet blog you can read the article: Improvements to BBC Local Radio online. The blog post is from August 2009. It states that Real Streams for Local Radio have been turned off. They plan to offer AAC and Windows Media streams. But this hasn’t been implemented yet. So one can only listen to Local Radio on the Flash-based iPlayer. (Links and information via this site)

But this is not true for National Radio like BBC Radio 4 or BBC7.

The old RealStreams still exist. At least for now. (And maybe only for Non-UK-users) Old links (looking like this rtsp://rmv8.bbc.net.uk/radio7/sat1700.ra? ) don’t work anymore.

The website offering WebbIE, the free web browser for blind people with little or no sight, complains about this step as the flash-player isn’t that accessivle. Read about it here: WebbIE: Accessible BBC iPlayer (Listen Again)

But it turns out there still is a way to get the Listen Again Real Audio Streams for Real Player. I read a blog post about a ubuntu script that’ll download the BBC Listen Again Stream, save it as wav via mplayer and convert it to a mp3 via LAME. This directed my to the website iPlayer Real Converter. If you give the website a iPlayer PID or search through the schedule, it’ll give you a link to the RealPlayer Stream.

I, for example was interested in the current episode of Doctor Who that was broadcasted on BBC7. I will post some links here, but I guess they won’t work by the time you read this, as the 7 days will be over.

From either the Overview page for Episode ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009szrh ) or the Details page for the Episode ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nlyg5 ) you can get to the iPlayer (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00nlyg5) , which will use Flash to play the episode.  Within the html of the iPlayer I couldn’t find a link the stream. Maybe I overlooked it. Maybe the Flash player is used to create a URL for the stream from the PID. The source code contains somethink like this:

iplayer.semp.setMetaFiles({
flash: {
playlist: "http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/playlist/b00nlyg5",
mp3: true,
aac: true,
aacLow: false
},
real: "",
wmp: ""

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/playlist/b00nlyg5 is a XML file. It contains a lot of information like the image to be used. Or what shows might be similar. But I couldn’t find the stream – URL.

But iPlayer Real Converter will help you. If you go the Schedule of BBC which is retrieved from the BBC via an XML file the old lady is offering, you get a link to http://www.iplayerconverter.co.uk/pid/b00nlyg5/stream.aspx

You can easily exchange the PID b00nlyg5 to whatever PID you have in your case.

The link I got redirected me to a file on the BCC server called: RadioBridge_intl_2300_bbc_7.ram

It contained the following link to a Real Stream “rtsp://rmv8.bbc.net.uk:554/bbc7coyopa/bbc7_-_saturday_2300.ra?timestamp=1257135938&pid=b00nly7h&BBC-UID=3ac234671728faa09320b837d0fb0c3d184337f196774&SSO2-UID=” [I changed the link slightly to obfuscate the UID – you can’t use it anyhow because the seven days are over. (and I change the timestamp)]. But from my former experience with the BBC URLs you should be fine using “rtsp://rmv8.bbc.net.uk:554/bbc7coyopa/bbc7_-_saturday_2300.ra?”

You can play this link using Real Player of mPlayer. Maybe you can even use vlc.

Just a quick note:

In case you want to listen the stream on day number 8. You might be tempted to run

mplayer -dumpstream -dumpfile FileNameEpisodeOfDoctorWho.Ra rtsp://rmv8.bbc.net.uk:554/bbc7coyopa/bbc7_-_saturday_2300.ra?

which will put the file FileNameEpisodeOfDoctorWho.Ra into the current working directory. [If you want to use the full URL including the “&”s, you should be aware that Windows will think the command ends at the ‘&’ and a new one starts at the ‘&’. You’ll have to but ‘”‘s around the URL in that case.] You can open this file using RealPlayer or mplayer. You can also use the more advanced command line shown on the blog post about a ubuntu script that’ll download the BBC Listen Again Stream, save it as wav via mplayer and convert it to a mp3 via LAME.

I will let you choose the bitrate for LAME and choose a good cache size and bandwidth. And you’ll get a .wav file from mplayer. The .ra file I created with my mplayer command line isn’t a wav file but a Real Audio file.  The size is about 20MB per hour.

Disclaimer: I surely don’t recommend you to save the stream. They’ll play a repeat someday. You don’t need to circumvent their 7 day constraint.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ed  |  February 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    These RealPlayer links continue to work, almost a year later; but they now only play the programmes which aired in the week beginning 24th May 2010.

    Reply

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