I want to point you to this blog entry about digital distribution. Continue reading to the bottom of the entry, as it comes back to distribution at the end. Scott Kirsner's blog Cinematech covers all sorts of issues, but he keeps a close eye on the way the economic and distribution models are changing. Peter Broderick is quoted as saying, "The old rules don't apply anymore but the old rulers don't realize it yet."
I'm convinced that the future of animation doesn't lie with large studios or broadcast networks. Their overheads are so high and their investors are so hungry for profits that they've got to keep aiming at the largest possible audience. As a result, they're the ones least likely to try new things.
You don't need to create the #1 film or the TV series that everybody's talking about. You only need to create something that makes enough money to pay your bills and allows you to keep creating. That applies to both individuals and small companies. With the increasing opportunities to reach an audience, I hope that more people in animation explore these possibilities.