Channel Nine - for thirty years Australia's highest-earning TV operation - is feeling the hot breath of rival Channel Seven on its neck.

The latter is now within just A$2 million ($1.51m; €1.2m; £818.1k) of snatching Nine's crown as the top revenue earner in the nation's A$2.78 billion annual metropolitan TV ad market.

Eddie McGuire, Nine's gameshow host-turned-ceo, admitted that the current ratings and revenue battle with Seven this year was "unprecedented", but nonetheless professed unconcern.

"What has happened previously doesn't count for anything much these days," he said. "We're still winning."

However, analysts and media-buyers don't share his optimism. Fusion Strategy media analyst Steve Allen reflects a widely held view: "The way I read the tea leaves right now, Seven will be number one in the [December] half."

Seven's revenue surge in the latest KPMG figures for the six months to June has raised industry eyebrows, few expecting the contest to be so neck-and-neck.

Seven's share of the $1.2 billion in metro TV ad revenue for the six months to June leapt to 36.4%, just behind Nine at 36.6% and well ahead of Channel Ten at 27% .

The numbers make it clear that without Nine's hold on the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, its long TV advertising reign would now be history.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff