The boost came from increased advertising business on flagship stations such as Nickelodeon, TV Land, and Comedy Central, helped along the way by a stronger slate of DVD releases and a runaway video game hit in Rock Band.
But Viacom's bread and butter is still in cable TV, where SpongeBob SquarePants' home, Nickelodeon, tends to rule the Nielsen weekly ratings with authority. With Nick at Nite, the Spike network, and Comedy Central also a part of Viacom's portfolio, the company is staying atop any competition that General Electric
That's not to say Viacom's place in entertainment history is all that secure, though. Management is talking about "reinventing the pay television window," which sounds a lot like hanging new window treatments on a sinking ship. I'd take that as a short-term project, because the whole windowing system should be gone in a few years.
Viacom also plans to dip its toes a bit deeper in the gaming pool, starting with about 1,600 casual online games under the Nickelodeon umbrella. Rock Band partner Electronic Arts
People keep giving Viacom the "MTV parent" epitaph, but that brand name barely makes a showing in the company's financial reports these days. Viacom is so much more, and it's looking to expand on its newfound diversity.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Disney and Marvel but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is always rocking and rolling.