6 DAYS TO AIR
So here's an example of how the production cycle is compressing. An episode of Southpark is conceived, written, animated, recorded, mixed and delivered for airing in 6 days.
Regardless of what you think about the subject matter or style of humor, this is an impressive accomplishment. And their team does this for 7 straight weeks, twice each year. For comparison, the typical animated series takes about 3-10 months to create, per episode.
Let's think for a moment about what this means. It means that the writers can be incredibly topical, and react quickly to current events. That's a huge advantage for a show which relies on relevance much more than visual fidelity for its impact.
It means that the people who make this show get to feel a sense of significant accomplishment Every. Single. Week. Talk about motivation! Again and again the best places to work are those where people have a sense of purpose and can pinpoint the value of their contribution.
It means that the product is better. Trey Parker has said that more time to produce each episode wouldn't have made them any better. Instead, the deadline forces hard choices. More time just prolongs the pain, and gives the team more opportunities to second guess themselves.
So what? That's a cartoon, and a crudely drawn one at that. That's entertainment, and if an episode or two doesn't do well, what's the big deal?