After ten years of cord-cutting, I've signed up for cable TV

If you'll forgive the hipster-ish-ness of it all, I was a cord-cutter before cord-cutting was a thing. Not because I wanted to be, but rather due to a childhood in which we didn't have cable and, later on, the habit of living without it. I had an old Dell laptop connected to the TV and a ton of DVDs ripped to its hard drive. The arrangement became more sophisticated over time, it was joined by Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, and I'd say my satisfaction with the arrangement had been increasing every year. Why, then, did I subscribe to cable TV this month?

Ten years ago, my living room was home to a TV with a DVD player on top of it and a chunky laptop under it. That laptop was connected to the TV, which showed a plain Windows desktop. When I wanted to watch something, I opened the video folder and browsed through the files I had ripped to the hard drive. I opened what I wanted with VLC; sometimes I'd select a bunch and add them to the media player as a playlist. It was as good as TV, minus the cost and commercials.

Soon enough, Netflix was added to my entertainment arsenal, then Hulu. That was great, as I'd grown weary with ripping DVDs — it was time-consuming and didn't benefit the people behind the content, as I didn't own most of the DVDs that ended up copied to my hard drive. If I was especially fond of something, I'd buy the DVD set. If I wanted to watch something and did have it yet, I'd rent it (and probably rip it) and that was that.

Fast-forward to today; more options than ever are available to cord-cutters, and people are ditching cable in droves.

In addition to a ton of streaming services, acquiring a TV episode or film is as simple as opening iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play (or one of several other services) and renting/buying it. I've used the services many times, downloading movies from Amazon onto my Kindle before a flight, renting a last-minute movie before friends come over, and similar things.

At some point, though, I started feeling disenfranchised.

It's not that cord-cutting is lacking, because it's not. No, it was that at some point, cord-cutting went from feeling like a good thing to feeling like a burden. A single digital local library and a single streaming service turned into a whole bunch of different services that sprawl across my devices, season passes, and ever-changing digital libraries. Watching one thing means firing up Netflix — then it would suddenly disappear from Netflix and I'd have to search for it using Roku's universal search.

Cord-cutting had become obnoxious and increasingly expensive, and I was tired of it.

That show would end up only being available on some service I didn't have a subscription to, which meant either: signing up, buying a digital copy, or ordering a DVD. I'd usually opt to buy a digital copy because I don't want physical discs taking up precious shelf space. Rinse and repeat.

Worse were things I'd like to watch, but that I don't like enough to spend any specific amount on...something it'd be neat to catch on TV one lazy Sunday, but that I wouldn't buy on digital or disc. Netflix went from being an amazing source for those kind of shows to, over time, a disappointing library of low-rated content that is either many years old or something you'd pick up for a fivver from the Walmart bargain bin.

I had a realization this month: cord-cutting had become obnoxious and increasingly expensive, and I was tired of it. Between subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu+Showtime, HBO NOW, etc) and rentals/season passes, I was averaging more than $70/month. I'd lost sight of why I was even bothering with all of this.

So I signed up for cable.

Now, instead of jumping between on-demand services, browsing libraries of random content and filling the gaps with individually-purchased items, I can open a single guide and get access to a ton of shows. All those things that look interesting? Add them to the DVR and they'll be there when you want them...whereas on Netflix, they'll be there until some licensing deal runs out and they get yanked (I'm looking at you, 'King of the Hill'). That uber-anticipated series finale for that hotter-than-fire TV show? Hey, now I can watch it at the same time as everyone else rather than dodging spoilers on Twitter.

It has been great, and it costs me less: $55/month. Maybe traditional TV's death at the hands of cord-cutting isn't so certain after all.