Didn't Sanctuary start out as a pay for download web series, then get picked up by SyFy after it's first season?
Unlike traditional TV series, the primary distribution channel for Sanctuary was originally the Internet. Episodes were sold directly to viewers on the official website. The web episodes or "webisodes", are about 15–20 minutes in duration and were released bi-weekly. The success of the webisodes led the Syfy Channel to commission a 13-episode season for 2008. The first four webisodes were rewritten and reshot as a two-hour premiere episode, "Sanctuary for All". After the deal with the SciFi channel, the webisodes were moved to the Sci Fi network on Hulu.com.
Actually I've never seen the show so you mentioning how this show took off really is interesting. In case you were wondering the DVD for season 1 has the original 4 webisodes
as a special feature along with audio commentaries on all 13 season 1 episodes.
4-disc DVD season 1 set released September 15, 2009.
One of the reasons I started this thread is that with the television landscape changing I think the next Trek series will actually be on television but also digital downloads will be available the same week as the first run episodes from a number of sources.
Star Trek is not that small of a brand to just be sold direct-to-consumer. It will have a television channel home in the USA but as with most shows being downloaded or streamed and watched within 3 days (or within 7 days) of the original broadcast date many people will watch a new Trek episode but just not in the traditional way.