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Apple Podcasts has retaken the lead over Spotify in the number of downloads, according to data from podcast hosting company Buzzsprout.

While Spotify became the largest app for podcast downloads worldwide between June and October, Apple Podcasts has since overtaken and extended its lead.

Apple Podcasts accounted for more than a third (35%) of all downloads in December 2021, up from a low last year of 26% in July. Spotify's share has dropped to 29% in the latest month.

Additional data show that Spotify has 381m monthly active users, with a third of these in Europe (34%). North America (24%) and Latin America (22%) follow. The company reported more users listening, higher levels of consumption and triple-digit growth in podcast advertising revenue in Q3 2021.

Buzzsprout also finds that 20-40 minutes is the most popular length for an episode, with 30% being this long.

At the same time, an episode that has at least 321 downloads in the first week is in the top 10% of podcasts. More than 755 downloads equals the top 5%, while over 3,763 downloads represents the top 1%.

Podcast advertising spend has been growing rapidly and WARC Data forecasts this to continue – investment is expected to rise by 28% to more than $3.5bn in 2022. Sport, news and comedy podcasts attract the most advertising.

Most podcast listeners are light listeners, though, so brands have a short amount of time to engage their audience. Part of the growing appeal for advertisers is the medium's opportunity for creativity, context and flexibility.