The show is directed by David Fincher, the man behind 'Fight Club' and 'The Social Network,' among other hits.
House of Cards will be Netflix' first original program, and puts the company in direct competition with HBO and Showtime, which have had years of original hits that have helped raise their subscriber bases.
Airing in late 2012, the show will be available exclusively through Netflix's "Watch Instantly" streaming service, which costs $7.99 by itself, or minimum $8.99 when mixed with a physical media package.
To get the show, Netflix had to commit to two seasons (26 episodes) before the pilot/test episode was even shot. A full-season commitment is an anomaly in the TV world, and a two-season commitment is just unheard of.
Netflix COO Ted Sarandos says the "company will pay a portion of the production costs of the series, with Media Rights Capital financing the rest and retaining DVD, television syndication and international distribution rights." It is unclear how much the company had to pay for the agreement, although he admitted that Netflix made sure its fees per show was capped.
Says Sarandos (via WSJ):
What they brought to me was a perfect storm of material and talent that made it a very safe bet.If it turns out to be a mediocre show, this wouldn't be a great deal, but it won't be a disaster.