ANAHEIM — When its switch was thrown here at the Western Cable Show at 5 p.m. Thursday, the new Time Warner Inc./Turner Broadcasting sports news network CNN/SI was launched to an estimated 4.5 million television homes.

But it might be stretching things to call those “subscriber” homes.

Of that initial 4.5 million base, 4 million are homes served by C-band satellite dish equipment, whose ability to pick up many of those networks it is credited with receiving remains inconsistent. And many of those homes are likely unaware that CNN/SI is a viewing option.

The remaining 500,000 homes receiving CNN/SI are served by cable. Many of those, however, are Time Warner systems. Moreover, when CNN/SI expands by an additional 1.5 million subscriber homes next spring, those will come from its launch on satcaster Primestar, which is partially owned by Time Warner. So the network’s early numbers are mostly the result of inhouse marketing efforts.

Nonetheless, the 4.5 million households is triple the number commanded by 24-hour sports news competitor ESPNews when it launched last month. CNN/SI will also be carried several hours each week on sister CNN to foster viewing and help goose distribution.

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