TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) may have started out 2006 on a quiet note, but here lately, it's looked a lot like the comeback kid. The DVR maker continued its recent track record of noteworthy developments last week, when investors rejoiced over its new deal with cable company Cox.

Through the agreement, Cox's DVR customers in some markets will have access to TiVo software and services in the first half of 2007. It'll be easy too -- the Cox DVR customers won't even need a service appointment to get their DVRs to use TiVo innovations like SeasonPass and Kidzone, which allows parents to gain greater control over what their children watch on television.

Cox may be privately held, but it's the fourth largest cable player. And it's deals like this one that many TiVo shareholders have been hoping for. In spring 2005, TiVo made a comparable deal with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), and it's also got a similar agreement with DirecTV (NYSE:DTV) (although we all know DirecTV's launch of its own DVR products was one of TiVo's major setbacks). It's obvious that agreements with cable companies are great for TiVo (and important to its survival), since it adds up to royalty payments and exposure to these companies' many customers.

And of course, recent legal wrangling with EchoStar (NASDAQ:DISH) -- which has had positive ramifications for TiVo -- underlines why cable companies might suddenly have much more interest in hooking up their DVR products with TiVo functionality.

Although some might rue the fact that TiVo is increasingly providing software to rivals, the outlook is much better than when it was principally offering its stand-alone TiVo box and watching cable rivals bite into its potential with their generic DVRs, easily bundled into their subscriptions.

TiVo remains a fairly risky stock, but the last several months have shown the tech company has a lot of fight left in it yet. (Stay tuned, of course, for TiVo's quarterly numbers later this week.) Continued deals with programming giants and increasing innovation give investors reason to suspect that there may very well be rewards beyond the risks.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.