LOS ANGELES - Netflix political drama "House of Cards" hopes to make television history this weekend by becoming the first online-only series ever to win a major Emmy award.
The series, starring Oscar winner Kevin Spacey as scheming US congressman Francis Underwood, is nominated in nine categories including best drama and best actor at the Emmys, the Oscars of the television world.
"Breaking Bad," "Homeland" and "Mad Men" are key rivals for the coveted top drama prize, while "American Horror Story: Asylum" has the most nominations with 17 nods at the 65th annual primetime Emmy awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
Elton John will make his first ever appearance at the show in a tribute to piano legend Liberace, the subject of acclaimed biopic "Behind the Candelabra" - whose stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon will be among the presenters.
Other stars handing out awards include Alec Baldwin of "30 Rock," "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston and "Homeland" nominee Claire Danes, while Sunday's show will be hosted by "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris.
"House of Cards," inspired by a BBC series from the early 1990s, was made exclusively for Netflix, the online movie streaming website, which put all 13 episodes online in February in one fell swoop.
The series' success highlights the radical changes underway in the TV industry, with more and more viewers "cutting the cable" and watching favorite shows via the Internet on cellphones, tablets and so-called "smart TVs."
"Anyone who has recently been in a college dorm room or the home of a twentysomething may have noticed there is something missing: a television," the LA Times noted. "More and more young people are accessing TV content on their computers, iPads or cellphones. Somebody is going to profit from this and, right now, Netflix seems well positioned to be the chosen one."
Other nominees for best drama include "Downton Abbey" and "Game of Thrones" - marking the first time no series from a mainstream US television network has been nominated in the category.
Cranston and Spacey are frontrunners for the best drama actor prize, while other nominees are Jon Hamm for "Mad Men," Jeff Daniels for "The Newsroom" and Britons Damian Lewis ("Homeland") and Hugh Bonneville ("Downton Abbey.")
For best drama actress, the clear favorite is Danes as CIA agent Carrie Mathison in "Homeland," although contenders who could cause an upset include Kerry Washington ("Scandal") and Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men").
Up for best comedy are "Modern Family," "The Big Bang Theory," "Girls," "Louie," "Veep," and "30 Rock," which after seven seasons aired its final episode on NBC in January.
Nominated for best TV movie or miniseries are "American Horror Story: Asylum," "Behind the Candelabra," another HBO music biopic "Phil Spector," "Political Animals," "Top of the Lake" and the History Channel's "The Bible."
There were some notable snubs when the Emmy nominations were announced in July, including Julianna Margulies, who failed to pick up a nod for her turn in "The Good Wife," and "Two and a Half Men" actor Jon Cryer.
"Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, who died in June aged 51, and late "Glee" actor Cory Monteith will be remembered among others who passed away this year, in the show's "In Memoriam" segment.
The show will also mark the 50th anniversary of two key historical events: president John F. Kennedy's assassination and the Beatles' appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show."