Streaming online video company Netflix has ventured into a new area of entertainment programming by signing U.S. comedian Chelsea Handler to host a talk show.

"The new talk show will feature an updated format that still encompasses Chelsea’s unfiltered opinions on topical entertainment and cultural issues, as well as her signature guest interviews," the company said in a statement.

The show will launch in 2016, giving the host and the company plenty of time to figure out the logistics of producing a topical, current events-based television show without the tether of a fixed time slot.

The show will launch and air "simultaneously in all Netflix territories for members to enjoy however and whenever they like," the company said.

Handler currently hosts a late-night talk show on the E network in the U.S., but that arrangement is set to end in August.

She had been rumoured to be in the running to replace David Letterman on The Late Show on CBS — a gig that goes to Stephen Colbert once Letterman, who has announced his retirement, leaves next year.

"“If I was going to continue working in this industry, I knew I had to do something outside the box to keep myself interested," Handler said. "I wanted to sit with the cool kids at lunch so I approached Netflix to make sure they were as cool as I thought they were, and when I confirmed my suspicions, like with any other future lover, I made my move." 

"I'’m more excited than I'’ve been in awhile, and the team at Netflix is the most forward thinking, alert group I’'ve sat down with in ages," Handler said.

Martin Sheen also in Netflix series

The agreement is an exclusive contract, meaning Handler is not allowed to do a similar show on conventional network television while her gig with Netflix is in effect.

Netflix, which began as a DVD-by-mail company, has become a pioneer in the online streaming video business.

The company has won Emmy Awards for exclusive shows such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, although the agreement with Handler is its first foray outside scripted programming.

In other Netflix news on Thursday, veteran actor Martin Sheen has reportedly signed to appear in Grace & Frankie, another Netfix-exclusive series. Sheen will appear alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin for a 13-episode run to be released sometime in 2015.