Breaking Bad wins Emmy for best drama
Modern Family wins for top comedy for fourth year in a row while Claire Danes picked best actress for second and Jeff Daniels chosen best actor
Breaking Bad took home the top honour at the Primetime Emmy Awards, winning the best drama series prize for the first time, as AMC's gritty tale of a schoolteacher turned meth kingpin heads into the home stretch of its final season.
In the best comedy series category, ABC's Modern Family was a return winner as the show about unconventional families won the top award for the fourth consecutive year.
The television industry's top awards on Sunday honoured a mix of old and new shows, with more than a few upsets in the acting categories, and much talk about the trends transforming today's television - binge-watching, mobile viewing and online streaming.
TV streaming pioneer Netflix's groundbreaking political thriller House of Cards took home an award for directing, but failed to score wins in best drama and best acting categories.
Premium-cable veteran HBO, which lead the field with 108 of the more than 500 nominations, proved its staying power in the increasingly competitive television industry, where basic cable and Netflix have challenged its high-quality production.
Jeff Daniels, who plays a jaded anchorman in HBO's The Newsroom, scored an upset win for the best actor in a drama, while Claire Danes clinched her second consecutive best drama actress Emmy for her role as a bipolar CIA agent in Homeland.
Daniels beat front runner Bryan Cranston, who was looking for this fourth best actor Emmy in his role as unlikely drug kingpin Walter White in the AMC drama Breaking Bad, and Kevin Spacey, who made waves as a cutthroat congressman in House of Cards.
"I didn't expect this," Daniels said. "I usually don't win anything. The last thing I won was for The Squid and the Whale, best actor over 50 from the AARP. With all due respect to the AARP, this is better."
HBO also won the best miniseries/movie category with its slick Liberace programme Behind the Candelabra. Veteran actor Michael Douglas won best actor in that category for his portrayal of the pianist, besting his co-star Matt Damon, who played his young lover.
The lead comedy acting awards were less of a surprise than the drama category. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the best comedy actress Emmy for the second year in a row for her role as hapless US Vice-President Selina Meyer on HBO's Veep. Jim Parsons picked up his third lead comedy actor win for his role as the nerdy and neurotic Sheldon Cooper on CBS' The Big Bang Theory.
Neil Patrick Harris' return gig as host wasn't up to his standards as an overall entertainer or habitual Tonys emcee.
Lukewarm writing and a lack of pizazz kept the Emmys at a low pitch.
A shout-out to the evening's most delightful moment: the acceptance speech by Merritt Wever for the comedy supporting actress trophy.
In words that should go into the Emmy Winner's How-to Guide: "Thanks so much. Thank you so much. I gotta go. 'Bye."
Additional reporting by Associated Press