Media giant Viacom (VIA), the owner of cable networks such as Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and the family of MTV channels, reported better-than-expected quarterly profit as it recorded strong gains in advertising, affiliate and television license fees.

The company also said it plans to sell Harmonix, which developed the Rock Band music video game franchise. In 2006, Harmonix was acquired by MTV Networks, division of Viacom International Inc.

For the quarter ended Sept.30, Viacom earned $189 million or 31 cents per share, lower than $463 million, or 76 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Excluding the sale of its Harmonix game business and tax benefits, Viacom's earnings came in at 75 cents per share, beating the 69 cents per share average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Revenues rose 5 percent to $3.33, which also topped Street estimate of $3.30 billion on strong growth in advertising revenues.

Media Networks unit revenues advanced 8 percent to $2.13 billion as advertising revenues improved 7 percent.  Domestic ad revenues continued to benefit from a strong scatter market, rising 8 percent in the quarter and affiliate revenues grew 10 percent to $799 million. 

During the quarter, Viacom sold TV ads at higher prices as it was benefited by a recovery in ratings and hit shows like Jersey Shore.

...many of our cable networks today are achieving new ratings highs and producing hit shows that feed the cultural dialogue in the U.S. and abroad.  This creative success coupled with the improving economy has fueled our advertising revenues, which were up 8% in the U.S. this quarter.., said Chief Executive Philippe Dauman in a statement.

In mid-2009, Viacom changed its fiscal year end to Sept. 30 commencing with the fiscal year 2010.  As a result, Viacom's fiscal year 2010 comprises the nine-month period of January 1, 2010 through September 30, 2010. 

Shares of New York-based were up $1.40, or 3.67 percent in the pre-market trading on NYSE. They closed Wednesday's regular trading session at $38.10.