A few years after TiVo was released, cable companies began to offer several tiers of service to their customers, including their own version of the DVR box. While the options here are usually more limited, cable-company DVR offers a useful and fairly inexpensive way of making sure your favorite shows are available on your schedule.
While there's not usually as much attention to detail with the software -- most regulation DVR systems can't search by actor or subject matter, for example, or make recommendations in the sophisticated way that the subscription services can -- you can still set "season passes," check out an entire week's worth of programming onscreen, declare your preferences for how many episodes to retain, make sure you don't run out of memory and stay on top of similar concerns.
Cable companies also enter into agreements with specific channels and stations to make their programming available "on demand," usually for free. While the availability of shows varies widely due to the agreements made specifically for each show and can often give a pretty small window of opportunity to catch up if you've fallen behind, it's a risk-free way to learn about new shows or see an episode that you've missed.