Drama Downton Abbey and Mad Men have earned the favour of Emmy award voters.
Advertising show Mad Men, last year's winner for best TV drama, was nominated in 17 categories. British drama Downton Abbey earned 16 nods for the September awards.
Joining Mad Men and Downton Abbey in the best drama category - the top Emmy grouping - are psychological thriller Homeland, medieval period piece Game of Thrones and past favourites Boardwalk Empire and Breaking Bad.
Newcomer Homeland, set among soldiers returning home from the Iraq War, earned nine nominations, more than any other freshman drama or comedy, including best dramatic actress for Claire Danes and dramatic actor for Damian Lewis.
Howard Gordon, who created the show along with Alex Gansa, credited a combination of ''good luck and good choices we made along the way'' in terms of cast, crew, writers and stories for the show's success.
But Homeland will face stiff competition from Mad Men, which has won the Emmy the past four years, fan favorite Game of Thrones, and critical darling Downton Abbey, which explores class distinctions between an aristocratic British family and their servants in the early 20th century.
Despite having competing as a mini-series last year, Abbey placed as a drama this year because it returned for a second season.
''One of the biggest surprises was how powerful Downton Abbey was for the nominations - best drama, best actor and best actress - the supporting categories are covered with other cast members. The Academy loves Downton Abbey,'' said Emmy expert Rob Moynihan of TV Guide magazine.
Indeed, Abbey earned nods for Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville among lead actresses and actors, respectively, as well as two nominations for supporting actresses, Maggie Smith and Joanne Froggatt, and two for supporting actors, Brendan Coyle and Jim Carter.
Also in the dramatic acting categories, Mad Men star Jon Hamm and last year's winner Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire will compete for best lead actor alongside Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad and Michael C. Hall in Dexter.
Lead actress nominees include Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss, as well as veterans Julianna Margulies for The Good Wife, Kathy Bates in Harry's Law and Glenn Close for Damages.
In the comedy arena, Modern Family, which won best TV show in its genre last year, pulled in 14 nominations including best TV comedy. It will compete in that arena against newcomers Girls and Veep, as well as The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm and 30 Rock.
''If you look at the acting categories, both comedy and drama, half of the nominees in the acting categories are first time nominees, so it really is a changing of the guard and that's very exciting for our business,'' Bruce Rosenblum, chairman of Emmy organiser the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, told Reuters.
Among the comedies, first-time nominees include Lena Dunham in Girls, who was nominated for best actress in a TV comedy, alongside another newcomer, Zooey Deschanel in New Girl. They are joined by Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep, Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation, last year's winner Melissa McCarthy for Mike & Molly and Edie Falco for Nurse Jackie.
Nominees for best actor in a comedy included the 2011 winner Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory, along with newcomers Louis C.K. in Louie and Don Cheadle with House of Lies, and veterans Larry David for Curb Your Enthusiasm, Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock, and Jon Cryer for Two And a Half Men.
Among snubs cited by some Emmy watchers was the lack of nominations in the drama series category for Boss and for its star Kelsey Grammer, as well as the absence of Parks and Recreation in the comedy category.
The mini-series and TV movie race will be a tight one, too, with Horror Story squaring off against historical drama Hatfields & McCoys, about feuding families in the 19th Century.
Hatfields earned 16 nominations overall, just behind Horror Story.
Those two were joined by Hemingway & Gellhorn, Luther, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia and political TV movie Game Change, another critical success.
Among networks, cable TV's HBO was again the leading network with 81 overall nominations, followed by CBS with 60, PBS with 58, NBC with 51, ABC with 48 and AMC with 34.The Emmys will take place on September 23 and be broadcast on the ABC television network.