Netflix proves it's a player with 14 Emmy nominations

"House of Cards" received 14 Emmy nominations Thursday. Melinda Sue Gordon / AP
Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey were both nominated for their roles on "House of Cards," which also received an Emmy nod for outstanding drama.

Don't be surprised if on Emmy night, you hear a first: "The red envelope, please."

No longer just a service that delivers DVDs in nifty packaging, Netflix proved it's a ground breaking television force on Thursday when the Internet streaming service scored a whopping 14 Emmy nominations. Netflix broke into all of the major drama categories, and stole the spotlight not just from broadcast network stalwarts, but from the traditional medium of television itself.

The service, which kickstarted its original programming model this year, earned nine nominations for the David Fincher-directed "House of Cards," three nominations for its "Arrested Development" reboot; and two nods for the critically-panned "Hemlock Grove." "House of Cards" stands against formidable foes: last year's winner "Homeland," "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men," "Game of Thrones" and "Downton Abbey."

"We think it’s very validating for Internet television—television is not defined by how it gets to the screen," chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in an interview Thursday, shortly after the nominations were announced. "It’s defined by what’s on the screen. And we’re thrilled that Emmy voters were open to our format and saw our programming on the same par with the best of cable and broadcast and premium television. It’s a vindication for new media, for the Internet and Internet television, for creative freedom, and for the use of technology to advance entertainment."

The way the audience can access shows on Netflix is not the only factor distinguishing it from the rest of television. Instead of producing a test pilot and screening it in front of test audiences, the company gathers big data from subscriber preferences to determine its programming choices. Netflix noticed its subscribers loved the original BBC series "House of Cards," loved movies that starred Kevin Spacey, were huge fans of films directed by David Fincher and voila, Netflix moved ahead with a $100 million, 26-episode order.

The process has drawn criticism from the creative community and media who argue that art has given way to data-crunching. On Thursday, Sarandos said the data that led to his decision to make the show has nothing to do with how the show turned out. Its stars, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, also received lead dramatic actor nominations.

"I don’t think it’s even possible to reverse-engineer a great television show," Sarandos said. "What we were able to do was use our data and our numbers to better value the show and be able to predict that it would be very popular with consumers. There hasn’t been a popular show set in politics since “The West Wing,” and that's because somebody made a decision that they wouldn’t be popular. But, in this case, the data showed there would be room for a show like that and that it was less about politics more about corruption and power and greed and sex and all the things that people really love. 'House of Cards' is an example of picking a great content creator and a great piece of material and getting out of their way."

Spacey, who has won two Oscars, said in a statement that he is grateful for the faith Netflix gambled and allowed the team to create a series over time instead of going through the traditional pilot process.

"They have been fantastic partners and I am delighted that--despite being the new kids on the block--we have broken through in such a competitive field of outstanding work," he said. "I am honored the Academy has been so generous in their recognition."

"Cards" isn't the only success of Netflix's morning. Although "Arrested Development," which won an Emmy for outstanding comedy in 2004, did not crack the outstanding comedy race as many pundits had predicted, actor Jason Bateman was nominated for lead role in a comedy and the show received two other nominations: single-camera picture editing for a comedy series and music composition for a series. To the industry, it is all reminiscent of the era when premium cable network HBO emerged as a contender against the broadcast networks.

"When we announced we were going to do 'House of Cards,' it became serious for everybody," Sarandos said. "We had some of the best actors, writers and director in the business working on television for the first time, and I think that's why we are a destination for most great shows today. We're proud to be able to create programming that's competitive with people who have been doing it their whole lives."

  • Slideshow Photos

    2013 Emmy nominees

    This year's contenders include "The Big Bang Theory," "Downton Abbey," "Breaking Bad" and many more as television celebrates a banner year.

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    'Breaking Bad' -

    "Breaking Bad" received its fourth nomination for best drama this year. The AMC hit about a chemistry teacher who turns into a meth cook (Bryan Cranston) to provide for his family has never won in this category despite critical acclaim. The show has 13 nominations overall.
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    'Downton Abbey' -

    British period drama "Downton Abbey" is up for best drama again this year, as well as 11 other categories. It won outstanding miniseries in its first season, and was nominated for drama series in season two.
    PBS
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    'Game of Thrones' -

    "Game of Thrones, " the HBO drama based on George R. R. Martin's fantasy novels is up for 16 awards this year, including best drama, which it has contended for in each of its three seasons. It did not win in the previous two years, and once again faces stiff competition in this third try.
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    'Mad Men' -

    The AMC drama "Mad Men," about Madison Avenue ad executives, is once again up for the best drama award. The show was nominated in 17 categories last year, but walked away with nothing. It has previously won four best drama trophies.
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    'House of Cards' -

    "House of Cards," the Netflix series about power plays on Capitol Hill earned the streaming service its first nomination for outstanding drama series, ushering in a new era of recognition for streaming content.
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    'Homeland' -

    Showtime drama "Homeland" had an impressive showing at the Emmys its freshman year in 2012, taking the trophies for drama series, best lead actor and actress and more. This year, it nabbed 11 nods, including best drama.
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    Bryan Cranston -

    Bryan Cranston plays chemistry teacher turned ruthless druglord Walter White (aka Heisenberg) on the AMC hit "Breaking Bad." He is once again nominated for lead drama actor, a category he for the role three consecutive times, from 2008 to 2010. He was not nominated in 2011 (the show wasn't eligible for that year's awards due to when the season aired), and was beaten out by "Homeland's" Damian Lewis last year.
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    Hugh Bonneville -

    Hugh Bonneville this year earned his second Emmy nomination for lead drama actor for his role of Robert Crawley on "Downton Abbey." He did not win last year.
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    Damian Lewis -

    "Homeland" star Damian Lewis received his second lead drama actor nomination for playing Nick Brody, a marine turned by al-Qaida. He won in this category in an upset over Bryan Cranston last year.
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    Kevin Spacey -

    Kevin Spacey is nominated for lead drama actor for his portrayal of Rep. Francis Underwood on Netflix's freshman political drama "House of Cards."
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    Jon Hamm -

    Jon Hamm has now been nominated five times for lead drama actor for his role as Don Draper on "Mad Men." He has yet to win, and again has tough competition in the category.
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    Jeff Daniels -

    Jeff Daniels, who plays Will McAvoy on HBO's "The Newsroom," picked up his first Emmy nomination for lead drama actor.
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    Claire Danes -

    Claire Danes stars as Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer with bipolar disorder on "Homeland." Danes is up again for lead drama actress, a category she won last year.
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    Connie Britton -

    Connie Britton is nominated for best drama actress for her portrayal of country singer Rayna James on "Nashville."
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    Kerry Washington -

    "Scandal" star Kerry Washington received her first Emmy nod -- lead drama actress -- for her portrayal of Olivia Pope on ABC's drama.
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    Michelle Dockery -

    Michelle Dockery is nominated for best lead actress for her work as Lady Mary on "Downton Mary."
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    Vera Farmiga -

    Vera Farmgia, shown with Freddie Highmore, picked up her first Emmy nomination, lead drama actress, for her role as Norma Bates in A&E's "Bates Motel."
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    Elisabeth Moss -

    Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson on "Mad Men," earned yet another lead drama actress Emmy nod for the role. She is also up for lead actress in a miniseries or movie for her portrayal of Robin on Sundance Channel's "Top of the Lake."
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    Robin Wright -

    Robin Wright, who plays political wife Claire Underwood in Netflix's "House of Cards," earned her first primetime Emmy nomination for lead drama actress.
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    Bobby Cannavale -

    Bobby Cannavale is up for a supporting drama actor for his role as Gyp Rosetti on "Boardwalk Empire."
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    Jonathan Banks -

    onathan Banks, who plays Mike on "Breaking Bad," is nominated for supporting drama actor.
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    Aaron Paul -

    For his role as Jesse Pinkman on "Breaking Bad," Aaron Paul received his fourth supporting drama actor nod. He won in 2010 and 2012.
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    Jim Carter -

    Jim Carter is nominated for supporting drama actor for his portrayal of Mr. Carson on "Downton Abbey."
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    Peter Dinklage -

    Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in HBO's "Game of Thrones," is nominated for supporting drama actor.
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    Mandy Patinkin -

    Mandy Patinkin is nominated for his portrayal of Saul Berenson on "Homeland."
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    Anna Gunn -

    Anna Gunn plays meth dealer Walter White's wife, Skyler, on "Breaking Bad." She is nominated for supporting drama actress.
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    Maggie Smith -

    Dame Maggie Smith is nominated for supporting drama actress for her portrayal of Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham on "Downton Abbey."
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    Emilia Clarke -

    Emilia Clarke is nominated for supporting drama actress for her portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen in HBO's "Game of Thrones."
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    Christine Baranski -

    Christine Baranski, who plays Diane Lockhart on CBS's "The Good Wife," is nominated for supporting drama actress.
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    Morena Baccarin -

    Morena Baccarin plays Jessica Brody on Showtime's "Homeland," and is nominated for supporting drama actress.
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    Christina Hendricks -

    Christina Hendricks, who plays Joan Harris on "Mad Men," is nominated for supporting drama actress.
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    '30 Rock' -

    "30 Rock" is no stranger to Emmy excitement. The sitcom received 13 nods this year, including best comedy, lead actor and actress, and more.
    Evan Agostini / AP
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    'The Big Bang Theory' -

    "The Big Bang Theory" is up for eight awards, including best comedy, lead actor, supportig actress and more. The popular sitcom has never won the best comedy trophy.
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    'Modern Family' -

    "Modern Family" is an Emmy powerhouse. This year, it has 12 nominations, and has won outstanding comedy series three times, a category it is once again contending in.
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    'Girls' -

    HBO's "Girls" is up for five awards this year, including best comedy.
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    'Veep' -

    HBO's "Veep" is also contending in five categories, including best comedy.
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    Jim Parsons -

    "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons, who plays genius Sheldon Cooper, is once again in the running for lead comedy actor, a category he has won twice before for the role.
    Michael Yarish / CBS
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    Alec Baldwin -

    Alec Baldwin, who stars as bumbling boss Jack Donaghy on "30 Rock," is nominated for lead comedy actor.
    Art Streiber / Art Streiber/NBC
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    Louis C.K. -

    Louis CK is the creator, star, writer and director of the FX series "Louie." He is nominated for a total of nine awards, including lead comedy actor for his role as Louie on "Louie."
    Aby Baker / Getty Images Contributor
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    Jason Bateman -

    Jason Bateman returned to "Arrested Development" as the show came back via Netflix this year. He is nominated for lead comedy actor for his portrayal of Michael Bluth.
    Mike Yarish / AP
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    Don Cheadle -

    Don Cheadle was nominated for lead actor in a comedy series for his role as Marty Kaan in Showtime's "House of Lies."
    Michael Desmond / AP
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    Matt LeBlanc -

    Matt LeBlanc is nominated for lead comedy actor in Showtime's "Episodes" for playing ... himself.
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    Lena Dunham -

    Lena Dunham is nominated for two Emmys this year: lead comedy actress and directing for a comedy series.
    Aby Baker / Getty Images Contributor
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    Tina Fey -

    Tina Fey, star of "30 Rock," is nominated for five Emmys this year, including lead comedy actress.
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    Julia Louis-Dreyfus -

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who stars as Vice President Selina Meyer on HBO's "Veep," is nominated for lead comedy actress.
    Lacey Terrell
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    Laura Dern -

    Laura Dern is nominated for lead comedy actress for her portrayal of Amy on HBO's "Enlightened."
    Lacey Terrell
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    Edie Falco -

    Edie Falco, who plays Jackie Peyton on "Nurse Jackie," is nominated for lead comedy actress.
    Phil Caruso/©Showtime
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    Amy Poehler -

    Amy Poehler, who stars as Leslie Knope on NBC's "Parks and Recreation," is nominated for lead comedy actress
    Dean Hendler / AP
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    Adam Driver -

    Adam Driver earned his first nomination for supporting actor in a comedy series for his role as Adam Sackler on "Girls."
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    Jesse Tyler Ferguson -

    Jesse Tyler Ferguson (pictured with Eric Stonestreet, right) is nominated for supporting comedy actor for his portrayal of Mitchell Pritchett on "Modern Family."
    Peter "Hopper" Stone / ABC via AP
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    Ed O'Neill -

    Ed O'Neill is nominated for supporting comedy actor for his role as Jay Pritchett on "Modern Family."
    Adam Larkey / ABC
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    Ty Burrell -

    Ty Burrell is nominated for supporting comedy actor for his role as Phil Dunphy on "Modern Family."
    ABC
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    Bill Hader -

    Bill Hader (in character as Stefon on "Saturday Night Live") is nominated in the supporting comedy actor category for his portrayal of various characters on "SNL."
    Dana Edelson / AP
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    Tony Hale -

    Tony Hale is nominated for supporting comedy actor for his portrayal of Gary Walsh on HBO's "Veep." This is his first Emmy nod.
    Lacey Terrell
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    Mayim Bialik -

    Mayim Bialik is nominated for supporting comedy actress for her portrayal of Amy Farrah Fowler on "Big Bang Theory."
    Michael Yarish
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    Jane Lynch -

    Jane Lynch is nominated for supporting comedy actress for her portrayal of Sue Sylvester on Fox's "Glee."
    Fox / Getty Images Contributor
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    Sofia Vergara -

    Sofia Vergara, shown with Julie Bowen, is nominated for supporting comedy actress for her portrayal of Gloria Pritchett on "Modern Family."
    Peter "Hopper" Stone / AP
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    Julie Bowen -

    Julie Bowen is nominated for supporting comedy actress for her portrayal of Claire Dunphy on "Modern Family."
    Peter "Hopper" Stone / ABC
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    Merritt Wever -

    Merritt Wever, who plays Zoey on "Nurse Jackie," is nominated for supporting comedy actress.
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    Jane Krakowski -

    Jane Krakowski is nominated for supporting comedy actress for her portrayal of Jenna Maroney on "30 Rock."
    Nbc / Ali Goldstein/NBC
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    Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anna Chlumsky -

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anna Chlumsky both star on HBO's "Veep," and each received a nomination for their roles this year: Louis-Dreyfus for lead comedy actress, Chlumsky for supporting comedy actress.
    Lacey Terrell
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    'The Amazing Race' -

    "The Amazing Race" is once again nominated for best reality competition, a category it has won every time between 2003 and 2012, except when "Top Chef" took the trophy in 2010.
    CBS
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    'Dancing With the Stars' -

    "Dancing With the Stars" is nominated for best reality competition. It has yet to win in this category.
    Adam Taylor / ABC
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    'Project Runway' -

    Fashion competition "Project Runway" is nominated for reality competition.
    AFP/Getty Images
  • 2013 Emmy nominees

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    'So You Think You Can Dance' -

    "So You Think You Can Dance," which is nominated for reality competition, has 11 previous primetime Emmy wins, but has never won in this categories.
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    'Top Chef' -

    Bravo's cooking contest "Top Chef" is nominated for reality competition. It is the only show that has ever beaten "The Amazing Race" in this category.
    Bravo / Matthias Clamer/Bravo
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    'The Voice' -

    "The Voice" is nominated for best reality competition.
    NBC
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