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People Behind The Code: NDTV’s Rise To Global Heavyweight

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New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) is one the most-watched news networks in India. They were also pioneers in bringing their content online with an accessible, user-friendly design.  

As smartphones became more affordable and accessible, mobile usage exploded across India in 2015. However, mobile data speeds also varied wildly from region to region. NDTVs development team quickly honed in on fast loading times as a way to gain a competitive edge, so they became early adopters of AMP. 

Vikas Kumar, NDTV

We caught up with Vikas Kumar, the head of NDTVs technology team, to talk about the impact AMP had on their mobile-first approach. 

Could you give us a bit of background on your company, and what made you decide to use AMP? 

NDTV launched in 1988 as a production house for Doordashan, a state-run news channel. We eventually launched our own independent channel, with dedicated content across news, sports, entertainment, finance, tech, to name just a few. 

We launched NDTV.com in 1999, and in the last two decades have grown into one of the top 20 news websites in the world. Through a commitment to quality content, UX, and localisation (our content is available in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Bengali), we now average close to 200 million monthly active users. 

We always saw page loading time as key to growing our online audience. One of our team members read an article about AMP, which got the developers talking. Our Google Account Manager sent us an email about it the day after, so it seemed like fate was calling!

Overall, we felt that AMP’s faster load times, and optimizations like pre-caching on SERP, could help us deliver a superior user experience.

Did integrating AMP present any challenges?

No, not really. Our SEO had been moving away from desktop towards mobile for some time, and with mobile index first taking precedence over desktop search, we knew it was the right option. 

We had some initial doubts about integrating third-party widgets, and whether or not we could maintain the existing look and feel of the site, but we found easy workarounds for everything. For example, <amp-iframe> is very useful for rendering widgets or elements that use custom JavaScript.

How did AMP impact your business? 

For ad-supported sites like ours, more impressions means more revenue. The faster loading pages and better user experience helped us establish a regular audience and generate income that we could reinvest into site expansion.

In this industry – even a one second difference has a massive impact in reducing bounce rates and increasing average session duration. After implementing AMP, average First Meaningful Paint (FMP) went from three seconds to one. 

AMP also prevents render blocking JavaScript by making it Asynchronous, and it eliminates third-party JavaScript which drags on loading time. It made us fast and agile. 

Our competitive advantage has decreased over time, as most publishers in India have embraced AMP and also take advantage of the platform. However, AMP really helped establish the channel with our target audience from the get-go. 

What advice would you give to anyone considering AMP? 

Make sure you familiarize yourself with all of the available AMP components; it will help you build a strong initial site framework. 

You should also continuously assess whether or not your AMP pages are valid, and if they’re not, take the time to understand why. The AMP website has resources for everything you could hope for, so we visit all the time.  

Did you find any AMP components difficult to implement? Are there any components you’d like to try out? 

We found <amp-live-list> a bit tricky to begin with! We wanted to run graphics of real-time election results on our site, but the third party JavaScript in it caused a problem.

In the end, we just posted our problems to the community and it was great that we could find a solution with the help of fellow developers, because AMP is open sourced, it’s constantly evolving so it’s great to collaborate and help each other.

We’re really looking forward to testing <amp-web-push>, which just launched recently.

What excites you most about the future of AMP? 

News like AMP being part of the OpenJS foundation gives us confidence that it’s being built with publishers and developers in mind, and is an open platform. New components and experiences like AMP Stories just add to the excitement. AMP+ PWA with one line of code would be awesome to have!

Vikas and his team are excelling with AMP – and you could too. Check out the resources on amp.dev for everything you need to further your career with AMP. Grow your AMP skills.

Have you been using AMP as part of your strategy? Tell us your story! 

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Posted by Alex Durán, AMP Project Marketing at Google

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