Sunday's World Cup final, the first England international on free-to-air UK television since the 2005 Ashes, attracted a peak viewership of 8.3 million.

The game was simulcast on several channels: Sky showed it on Sky One, Main Event, and their Cricket channel, while Channel 4 split their coverage between their main channel and More 4 during the British Grand Prix.

The peak audience was only marginally below that recorded during the 2005 Ashes, when 8.4 million people watched the culmination of England's win at Trent Bridge on Channel 4. By contrast, the first Test of the 2015 Ashes, shown only on Sky, attracted a peak viewership of 467,000.

The World Cup final had to compete for attention with the men's singles final at Wimbledon between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, as well as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Cricket will return to free-to-air TV in the UK from next summer, after the BBC agreed a deal in 2017 to show ten men's and eight women's matches from The Hundred per year, as well as two men's T20Is and one women's T20I.

Liam Plunkett, the fast bowler who took three wickets in England's win, had previously voiced support for the final to be broadcast free-to-air.

"Playing for England, you're the pride of the country and you want people to be able to access that and watch that," he said after the group stage win against New Zealand. "I'm not sure it's going to happen but for the guys, you want as many people to watch it as possible."

Sunday's final was a sell-out, with unofficial resale platforms offering tickets priced at several thousand pounds. As well as the millions watching on TV, thousands of fans gathered in the fanzone in Trafalgar Square, first to watch and then to celebrate England's win.

There was widespread support for Sky's decision to allow the game to be shown on free-to-air TV, a move that the ECB encouraged but did not demand. But Ashley Giles, the director of cricket for England's men's teams, suggested that England might not have been able to win the World Cup without Sky's investment.

When asked by BBC Radio 4 if it would have been impossible, Giles said: "Quite possibly, yes. The investment in the game from grassroots to professional has allowed us to do what we've done.

"Sky took the game on and have been fantastic supporters since. Thank you to them for allowing it on Channel 4."

Channel 4's chief executive Alex Mahon said it was "wonderful that the whole nation can come together to share these momentous British sporting events".