The beginnings of vertical integration and self-produced content at Netflix, and the growth of more and more projects on Kickstarter also may point to a future trend in distribution, something more akin to bankrolling stage plays, or donating to PBS. Instead of the traditional broadcast model, where commercials pay for airing free content, the production company owns the property and the networks lease it.
One future model may be one where the production embraces narrowcasting to a very loyal niche market, raising funds for each production directly from the fan base. Then turning around to feed them with lots more additional, exclusive ancillary content, making a circle that feeds back on itself. Imagine a series with the longevity of a typical old soap opera, or something like Doctor Who; years and years' worth of episodes, directly viewer-funded. Yes, much smaller profit, but over the longer time... ?
One need only check out the response when Nathan Fillion mentioned buying the rights to produce more episodes of "Firefly", to see that a deeply loyal fan base could become a self-sustaining audience that could be tapped for years' worth of productions, and profits.