Scott Kirsner has a blog entry about serial distribution here. Greg Joyce is taking his live action feature and breaking it up into segments that will be serialized on Brightcove for free. Kirsner questions whether something made as a feature will work in bite-sized chunks, but does think that the idea of a serial is a good one if the work has been created for that format to begin with.
I think there's a market for a weekly 1 minute animated film that's serialized. I think that the best approach, rather than create original content, might be to parody a weekly TV series. Take Desperate Houswives, Lost or 24 and parody the most recent episode before the next episode gets on the air. That way, your show is attractive to a ready-made audience. If you can build a large enough audience, you can sell advertising or do product placement within the segment. If the project is successful, you might even be subsidized by the producers of the show you're parodying, as they'll see it as publicity. If you've got a hit, you might get other producers approaching you to parody their show.
A parody might become a standard part of a show's marketing. It would make a great DVD extra when they release a complete season of a show. If there are 22 episodes done for a season, then your 22 minutes of parody is the equivalent of a half hour special.
Once you've built an audience and a reputation, that's when you start doing original content that stands by itself.
The tough part is staying alive until the project becomes profitable. I think that small studios that already have staffs, equipment and clients might be in position to pull something like this off.