Netflix Inc., the mail-order and online movie-rental service, is in talks to distribute its first original TV series, two people with knowledge of the transaction said.
The agreement, if completed, would give Netflix the ability to offer exclusive viewing of “House of Cards” on its streaming service, a tactic that Time Warner Inc.’s HBO and CBS Corp.’s Showtime have used to attract and retain subscribers.
Netflix would license 26 episodes of the program, which stars Kevin Spacey and was adapted from the 1990 miniseries and book that follows a British politician who wants to be prime minister. The pilot is being directed by David Fincher, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work in “The Social Network,” a film for which Spacey was executive producer.
Under the arrangement, Media Rights Capital, which owns the show, would retain DVD rights and the ability to syndicate the program for TV after Netflix’s exclusive period expires, said one of the people.
Susan Arons, a spokeswoman for Media Rights Capital, declined to comment.
The discussions were reported earlier by TheWrap.com.
HBO produces “Boardwalk Empire,” “True Blood” and “Entourage,” and had about 28.3 million subscribers as of September, according to researcher SNL Kagan. Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, had 20 million subscribers at the end of 2010.