If it seems to you as if Disney (NYSE:DIS) has been spreading the wealth lately, you're not alone. Yesterday, the company announced that it would be shuttering its ESPN Mobile business by the end of the year. On the surface, it appears to be a failure. The sports programming giant got too cocky. It priced its sports-centric mobile phone service too high. There just weren't enough subscribers.

That may all be true, but in pulling the plug on its service by the end of the year, Disney is once again in a position to cash in on the golden ESPN brand by farming it out to a wider selection of carriers.

Disney has been doing a lot of that lately. On Wednesday it teamed up with VeriSign's (NASDAQ:VRSN) Jamster to provide Disney ringtones, mobile games, and graphics. Back in May, it partnered with ShandaInteractive (NASDAQ:SNDA) to introduce online games in China with popular Disney characters. In the more old-school vein, you can point to Disney's financially prudent move to hand over its Disney Store empire to The Children's Place (NASDAQ:PLCE) two years ago.

It makes sense. Licensing has always been a big part of the Disney revenue mix. New media is simply creating new opportunities for third parties to cash in on Disney's brand with the family entertainment giant there to collect passive royalties.

Earlier this month, Disney became the first major studio to provide full-length feature film downloads for the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes store. In its first week, Disney was able to ring up 125,000 digitally delivered flicks that probably didn't cannibalize its physical distribution efforts.

This doesn't mean that Disney is always going to rest its fate on the marketing efforts of others. The company has made no bones about the fact that it is revamping its namesake site in order to serve as a hub for digital distribution. Disney was quick to give Apple copies of its hit ABC and Disney Channel shows to sell, but it also followed that up by streaming them for free in an ad-supported model on ABC.com.

These aren't mixed signals. This is a company covering all of its bases -- even if ESPN Mobile won't be covering those bases after next month's World Series. These days, it's the best way to play, and win, the game.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is still a kid at heart, smitten over the right kind of animation. He owns shares in Disney. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.