Entertainment production powerhouse Viacom (NYSE: VIA) (NYSE: VIA-B) didn't mind the writers' strike at all. Instead, management cited the labor action as one of the three major reasons behind its fine performance in the fourth quarter. Earnings of $0.86 per share on $4.25 billion in sales exceeded analyst expectations on both counts.

Advertising contracts flowed out of the big TV networks and into cable stations, as a strike-softened prime-time schedule on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox drove advertisers into the open arms of Viacom and other cable heavies. Reruns are always a staple on Nickelodeon, MTV, and Comedy Central, with or without a strike. And so Viacom gained from the pain felt by sister company CBS (NYSE: CBS). The other three networks have enough cable properties to even out the suffering a bit.

The second earnings engine at work was Paramount Pictures, where DVD sales for Transformers and DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA) production Shrek the Third scared up 40% higher operating profits than the year-ago quarter.

And the third hit was a video game. The Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS)-published music machine Rock Band pulled off a face-melting precious metal solo -- with some help from Activision (Nasdaq: ATVI), because Viacom is entitled to royalties from the Guitar Hero franchise -- to pop "ancillary revenues" for the studio entertainment division by 72% over last year. That's a very meaningful $460 million in sales, and most of the growth came from a product that was released during the quarter. There's a franchise tentpole if I ever saw one.

Rock Band certainly will get sequels, and they will do very well. Transformers is another possible clone generator, and predictable growth is certainly in Viacom's cards with those fresh franchises in hand.

Viacom's stock is notoriously sedentary with negative tendencies and has yet to reach much above the price it was trading at following its split from CBS. But it's still not cheaply priced relative to the competition and current growth expectations, so I'd blame the lackluster returns on high expectations out of the gate. It's a stock worth watching, but it's not singing, "Buy me now!"

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund is merely a mediocre rocker. He holds no positions in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure can nail both Iron Maiden and Dragonforce in its sleep.