NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In a post AT&T (T) and Time Warner (TWX) deal environment, Walt Disney (DIS) is coming into the spotlight as the next big media player that could make a move, Liberty Media (LMCA) Chairman John Malone said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Thursday morning. Last month, AT&T announced that it was buying Time Warner for more than $85 billion, although the deal hasn't been approved by regulators yet.
"Disney is the only big, very attractive, content-owning distribution company," and "it's not controlled," Malone pointed out.
If a suitor goes after Disney, then Apple (AAPL) will "finally" need to make a decision on it since the companies are "very close," he claimed. Disney CEO Bob Iger is a member of the Apple board.
Disney and ESPN will probably end up splitting up and the sports network could then be "owned and protected" by a U.S. distributor, Malone predicted.
Then Apple might become "more interested" in Disney because the two companies would have "a lot more in common in terms of international branding," he explained. "Because fundamentally [Apple CEO] Tim Cook is a global player and fundamentally ESPN is a domestic service."
"Do you think Iger is under pressure?" CNBC's David Faber asked.
"No. When these tectonic plates start moving, it's just fun to speculate because we're just little guys now. We're looking at these guys with these massive balance sheets who are in and around our space and it's always interesting to speculate when they actually get involved," Malone answered.
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