In over a decade Australian commercial TV broadcasters have experienced only two downturns in annual ad revenues , the second occasion being 2005 when the $2.7 billion a year metropolitan TV ad market fell 1.8%. Hardest hit by the sag was the Packer family's market-leading Nine Network.

In the latest KMPG commercial TV revenue figures (July-December) Nine posted its lowest share of metropolitan advertising since the survey's launch in 1997. The cause? A migration of advertising dollars to the resurgent Seven Network as well as pay-TV.

Despite the decline, however, Nine remains top of the heap, its share of the A$1.5 billion ($752.3m; €919.2m; £632.5m) metro TV market being A$534.8m - a record low of 36.3%.

Media buyers were wrong-footed by the numbers - albeit to their delight. "I'm surprised by this result," said Mitchell & Partners chairman Harold Mitchell. "I thought it would be flat. Buyers will be buoyed by this."

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