LOS ANGELES -- Netflix’s “House of Cards” made Emmy history Thursday with a top drama series nomination, the first time that television’s leading awards have recognized a program delivered online as equal in quality to the best that TV has to offer.
The nomination, one of nine nods earned by the political thriller, is a marker in the unfolding revolution in how we get and watch video entertainment.
The most Emmy nominations, 17, went to “American Horror Story: Asylum.” Close behind was “Game of Thrones” with 16 nods, while “Saturday Night Live” and the Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra” earned 15 nominations each, including nods for stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
“House of Cards” stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright received acting bids, along with a number of other primarily big-screen actors who have migrated to TV for powerhouse projects, with Douglas and Damon among them.
Another Netflix series, “Arrested Development,” didn’t earn a best comedy series but scored three nominations, including one for star Jason Bateman.
Joining “House of Cards” and “Game of Thrones” in the best drama series category are “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Mad Men” and last year’s winner, “Homeland.”
“Mad Men,” which last year missed out on the best drama trophy that would have been its record-setting fifth, eclipsing fellow four-time winners “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “The West Wing,” gets another shot this year.
The major broadcast networks were shut out of the prestigious category, a repeat of last year and a particular blow with the entry of Netflix’s streamed drama. “Boardwalk Empire” was the only show not to return in the category, its spot claimed by “House of Cards.”
In the comedy series category, nominees are “The Big Bang Theory,” “Girls,” “Louie,” “Modern Family,” “Veep” and “30 Rock,” recognized for its final season. Another outgoing comedy, “The Office,” didn’t receive a best series nod.
A 6-year-old TV academy rules change allows online entries to compete with cable and broadcast programs, although so far Internet shows have popped up only in lower-profile categories. That changed with the 65th Primetime Emmys.
“It certainly is a marker of the new era. ... It will send shock waves through the industry,” said Tim Brooks, a TV historian and former network executive, predicted on the eve of the nominations.
They were announced by Aaron Paul, a previous winner for “Breaking Bad” and nominated again this year, and, in a surprise, Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris. He filled in “House of Cards” actress Kate Mara, kept in Santa Fe, N.M., by a plane’s mechanical malfunction.
Patrick, an in-demand emcee, earned his own bid for hosting this year’s Broadway’s Tony Awards.
Joining Spacey in the contest for best drama series actor are Hugh Bonneville of “Downton Abbey”; Jon Hamm of “Mad Men”; Jeff Daniels of “The Newsroom” and Damian Lewis of “Homeland,” last year’s winner.
Kevin Bacon, one of the big-screen stars trying their hand at TV, was not recognized in the category for “The Following.”
Actresses nominated for their drama series work besides Wright include Vera Farmiga of “Bates Hotel”; Michelle Dockery of “Downtown Abbey”; Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men”; Connie Britton of “Nashville”; Kerry Washington of “Scandal”; and last year’s winner, Claire Danes from “Homeland.”
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Emmy ceremony will air Sept. 22 on CBS.