AAPL - Get Report) needs to be part of the conversation. Given space and time concerns, it's not sensible to list everything AEG owns, operates or otherwise has its hands in, but the list, via AEG's corporate Website, packs something more than an incredible punch. Among AEG's top holdings and interests -- the Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey club; Staples Center, the home of the Kings and the NBA's Lakers and Clippers; the LA Live entertainment complex in downtown LA; the O2 arena and entertainment complex in London and the nation's second-largest concert promotion machine behind Live Nation Entertainment ( LYV - Get Report). AEG also owns a 30% stake in the Lakers as well as the professional soccer team David Beckham plays for -- the LA Galaxy -- and the Home Depot Center, which is where the team plays. Thus far, I have only seen private equity firms and a couple of billionaire Angelenos come up as potential suitors. Anschutz wants to the sell the company in whole, not in parts. And he'll apparently actively seek buyers, not just field offers. The price tag -- in the billions. I would speculate no less than $2 billion. WIth that in mind, why haven't publicly traded companies come up as buyers? Some seemingly perfect fits are just too small or have obvious conflicts of interest. For example, Madison Square Garden ( MSG - Get Report) is both too small and, because it already owns the New York Rangers and New York Knicks, a deal could never fly. Similar roadblocks exist for Comcast ( CMCSA - Get Report) (owns the Philadelphia Flyers) and Disney ( DIS - Get Report) (I'm not sure it could accept or ameliorate the conflict of interest presented vis-a-vis ESPN, but you never know). As old guard media companies go, Time Warner ( TWX) and Viacom ( VIA.B) both make sense. With more than $2 billion in cash, Time Warner appears better positioned to put an offer together, but Viacom likely could as well.
For rationale behind these names making a move, search my article history on TheStreet for pieces that include Canadian media and telecommunications' giants Rogers Communications ( RCI) and BCE ( BCE). Verizon ( VZ - Get Report) or AT&T ( T - Get Report) could attempt to follow the Rogers/Bell blueprint, but I doubt the companies have that type of vision separately, the smarts to work together or the ability to get past tight U.S. regulators. That leaves names such as Google ( GOOG - Get Report) and, particularly, Apple in the mix. Executed properly, this could represent the next step in Apple's evolution. The most obvious connection -- integrating iTunes with AEG's concert promotion business. Endless possibilities there. Simply put, iTunes becomes the engine, the platform that fuels this segment of AEG. It instantly explodes and becomes much more of a revenue generator than it is today. As far as the sports teams go, this opens the door to Apple's entry into the living room. For example, consider the Lakers. For better or worse, if you can call any sports franchise a national brand, it's the Lakers. A bit like the Dallas Cowboys used to be and the New York Yankees are. Special, enhanced access to Lakers games via Apple TV represents a large enough draw to become one of the cornerstones of the project. Huge opportunity to enter the living room with force. It's much easier to negotiate deals with the current rights holders or become the rights holder yourself when you own all or part of the team. With a foundation planted with West Coast sports, Apple can go to an MSG to partner and bring the Yankees, Knicks, Rangers and such to the new platform. Why should Apple bang its head against the wall with content providers, spending billions to buy the same junk Netflix ( NFLX) and Amazon.com ( AMZN) overpay for when it can strategically position itself to have a foothold on live, sports programming -- the stuff that actually matters? The stuff that Rogers and Bell expertly corner the market on in Canada. In some ways, it's a no-brainer for Apple.
While part of me thinks, "Why even mess with the living room (particularly at such a large scale)?," another knows Apple cannot continue its iPhone and iPad dominance without a truly epic "one more thing." I want to talk to some people, flesh this out a bit more over the weekend and write more about it next week on TheStreet. At the time of publication, the author was long MSG and VIAB in a custodial account he manages for his minor child. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.