Netflix, the US movie rental giant, is apparently in discussions with representatives of a new TV show, House of Cards (a remake of the 1990s BBC production) with a view to grabbing its exclusive rights.

The move could see the California-based company part with up to $100 million (although this figure is disputed in some reports) to secure the David Fincher directed drama series, that also stars Kevin Spacey.

It would put Netflix in direct competition with premium cable channels such as HBO as an original programme distributor, rather than just a distributor of third party content.

To put things into perspective, HBO has 28.2 million subscribers, whilst Netflix's customer base is around 20 million. However, the prospect of being able to offer programming that cannot be seen elsewhere may be a big enough lure to see the number of Netflix users grow significantly.

It also opens up a whole new area of digital distribution as Netflix already has deals in place with the likes of Sony, Roku, Vizio and LG to stream HD content from its library.

From a UK angle, it will be interesting to see how this pans out. With Amazon buying out Lovefilm, the UK's most popular rental service now has the financial muscle to go down a similar road to the one on the cards for Netflix.