The biggest difference with anime and manga versus most crap, is there's just a god fucking ton of it. We have like 15-35 new shows every 3 months, each with a possibility of a license. And how would a company know which show to license unless it was already understood that people would want to spend money on it?
With fansubs, the anime industry in America would only be titles picked by 1 or 2 guys, and only shit they thought would sell. Lucky Star, despite people's thoughts about it, would have probably never been considered, same with Haruhi or any slice-of-life every licensed.
We NEED fansubs to keep the industry alive, but the problem is the quality of fansubs and the raws they use have nearly matched or exceeded DVD quality. What do you do then? It's not like an official brand new DVD versus a 4th generation fansub anymore, especially with the advent of HD anime. How can a DVD hope to look as good as a 720p tv raw? I just couldn't see it.