Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCK) didn't exactly find the jackpot reality show Gold Rush Alaska was looking for, but the company keeps piling up consistent returns in lieu of the one-time jackpot. Net income jumped 34% last quarter to $202 million, or $0.47 per share, as advertisers opened up their wallets during the year's final three months. And the best may be ahead of Discovery with its next generation of networks, OWN and 3net launching this quarter.

Just when I think the viewers are losing intelligence by fist-pumping through Jersey Shore (yes, I've watched it), I get a flash of hope when I see Discovery's more highbrow programming having success. This Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick may be stooping a little bit with Mike Tyson's pigeon racing show Taking on Tyson, but I can give it a pass if the show makes me laugh as much as the premise.

Staying on the cutting edge
Solid results last quarter could be just the beginning as Discovery makes a push into growth platforms to start of 2011. The Oprah Winfrey Network, a joint venture with Oprah, launched on Jan. 1, and full-time 3-D channel 3net launched yesterday with high hopes. 3net is a venture with IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX) and Sony (NYSE: SNY) that will provide original 3-D programming along with IMAX cinema releases and give consumers one more reason to make the 3-D upgrade.

Video on demand and streaming options like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Hulu are also opening up new distribution models that will play an increasing role for content companies. So far Discovery has watched distribution models change slowly from the sidelines but management is starting to sound open to exploring opportunities as they arise. With the future of cable and streaming choppier than the waves on Deadliest Catch, Discovery's superior content will help keep this ship afloat.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium watches the Discovery Channel far too much and he owns shares of IMAX. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

IMAX is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Discovery Communications and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.