Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston lost out to The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels in the Lead Actor category, but Cranston’s on-screen partner Anna Gunn took home the Supporting Actress in a Drama series gong.
Claire Danes nabbed a second consecutive Lead Actress Emmy for her role as Carrie in Homeland, and the series also earned an award for its writing.
Modern Family won Outstanding Comedy series, while Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale picked up Lead Actress and Supporting Actor gongs in the comedy categories.
Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, paid tribute to online video streaming and social media sites, saying: "I don't think our show would have even lasted beyond season two if it wasn't for video on demand, and also the internet component of it where folks get to chat. It really has held us in good stand. It's a bold new era."
He added: "I think Netflix kept us on the air."
The rise of Netflix, which lost out in the major categories but won a directing award, provided ample material for Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted the ceremony at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
As the show opened, he was sat watching multiple screens, joking: "Right now, I am watching an episode of American Horror Story: Asylum on my contact lens."
American Horror Story, however, was one of the night's big losers, winning just two awards despite leading the field with 17 nominations. Game of Thrones, which continued to grow its audience in its third season, took two technical awards.
Downton Abbey won Outstanding Music Composition, but Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery all went home empty-handed.
Bonneville said at a pre-show party that in such a tentpole year for drama, he couldn’t have expected to win.
"I don’t think the pressure is on me, frankly," he said.
Behind The Candelabra, which was deemed too risqué for a cinema release in the US, won Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, and Michael Douglas won the Lead Actor category for his role as Liberace. Indie favourite Laura Linney bagged the equivalent actress award for her part in The Big C.
Hit drama Breaking Bad won its first Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series last night, holding off competition from its AMC rival and four-time winner Mad Men.
Breaking Bad lead Bryan Cranston missed out on the Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, which went to Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom. Claire Danes won for her performance as bi-polar CIA agent Carrie Mathison in Showtime’s Homeland.
British screenwriter Abi Morgan picked up a gong for BBC Two’s The Hour, andDownton Abbey took home the Emmy for outstanding music composition for the second year running, but missed out in the rest of its 11 categories.
Emmy 2013: List of winners in full
Actor in a Drama Series
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland
Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
The Colbert Report
Mini-series or Movie
Behind the Candelabra
Actor in a Drama Series
Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Tony Hale, Veep
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Writing for a Drama Series
Henry Bromell, Homeland • “Q&A”
Directing for a Drama Series
David Fincher, House of Cards • “Chapter 1”
Writing for a Comedy Series
Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock • “Last Lunch”
Directing for a Comedy Series
Gail Mancuso, Modern Family • “Arrested”
Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals
Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Abi Morgan, The Hour
Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Steven Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra
Writing for a Variety Series
The Colbert Report
Directing for a Variety Series
Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live
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