It was more about creating and supporting fan buzz about series that we wanted to see get adopted and brought over for release...
Fansubbing has taken a different direction, though, because it's catering to a different group. It used to be difficult to get ANY anime, much less transletd stuff over here. We huddled around 8th generation VHS tapes of sailor moon subtitled in Chinese because it was all we had. We needed companies to license titles so that we could get quality copies.
Now, with the proliferation of high-speed internet allowing a multiperson subbing group spread across four or five countries to keep in contact, not to mention uploading and downloaind full episodes with ease in a few hours time, coupled with Digital broadcast signal means that a Fansubbing group can deliver a product that is at least on par with a licensing company in terms of image quality and scrip quality in a fraction of the time for free.
Frankly, licensing companies are rapidly becoming completely extraneous to the hobby.