The political thriller, the first online program to compete for the top trophy, is part of a video universe explosion that's added streaming services including Netflix and websites like YouTube to broadcast, cable and satellite TV delivery.
The Emmy ceremony, airing at 8 p.m. EDT Sunday on CBS with host Neil Patrick Harris, will boast its fair share of movie stars, among them TV movie nominees Michael Douglas and Matt Damon for the Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" and Al Pacino and Helen Mirren for "Phil Spector."
There could be history made: "Scandal" star Kerry Washington, the first African-American nominee for best actress in a drama since Cicely Tyson in 1995 for "Sweet Justice," would be the first ever to win.
ABC's "Modern Family" has the chance at its fourth consecutive best comedy series trophy.
"House of Cards" faces tough opposition. AMC's "Breaking Bad" is after its first best drama award as it nears the end of its five-season run, and "Mad Men" would like to claim a fifth honor to set a record for most wins in the category.
AMC's "Mad Men" is tied with past greats "Hill Street Blues," ''The West Wing," and "L.A. Law." Last year, Showtime's "Homeland" played spoiler by taking the trophy and is nominated again along with PBS' "Downton Abbey" and HBO's "Game of Thrones."
Bryan Cranston is bidding for a fourth lead-actor trophy for "Breaking Bad," facing competitors including Kevin Spacey of "House of Cards" and Jon Hamm of "Mad Men."
Spacey, his co-star Robin Wright and Jason Bateman of Netflix's comedy "Arrested Development" are the first to snare lead online series bids.
There have been Internet nominees before, such as last year's "Web Therapy" and "30 Rock: The Webisodes" in a short-format category, but not in the premier fields of acting and best series.
At last weekend's creative arts Emmys for technical and other achievements, "Behind the Candelabra" received a leading eight awards. Overall network leaders included HBO with 20 awards, followed by CBS with 15 and NBC with eight.