HBO again dominated the Primetime Emmys on Sunday, but the premium cable channel had to share some of the glory with lowly broadcast network NBC and public broadcaster PBS.
Bolstered by multiple wins for its all-star TV movie Grey Gardens and the World War Two miniseries Into the Storm, HBO collected 21 trophies. It had led the field with 99 nominations. Last year, it won 26 statuettes.
The broadcast networks, which have played second fiddle at the Emmys for some years, never threatened to overtake HBO. But they managed to avoid losing ground, as NBC increased its count to 16 wins from 10 last year.
The network, which ranks last among the Big Four broadcasters, was powered by 30 Rock with five wins, including a third consecutive title as best comedy.
ABC won 11 Emmys, followed by Fox with 10 and both CBS and PBS with nine each. PBS's Charles Dickens adaptation, Little Dorrit, was the most-honored show, with seven wins.
HBO's standard-bearers included Grey Gardens, with three wins. The made-for-TV movie about a mother and daughter pair of faded socialites won for best movie, best actress (Jessica Lange) and best supporting actor (Ken Howard).
HBO was not the only cable channel on the winner's podium. Showtime won six Emmys, including a surprise supporting comedy win for Toni Collette in United States of Tara. AMC scored five trophies, thanks to repeat wins for both Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Comedy Central won three and FX two.
It is an amazing time to work in TV, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner said as he accepted the show's second consecutive best-drama prize. And I know that everything is changing, but I'm not afraid of it because I feel like all of these different media, it's just more choice and more entertainment, and it's better for the viewers in the end.
Weiner told reporters backstage that the wins garnered by NBC and others showed resounding support for network television.
Glenn Close, who repeated as best actress for her lead role in the FX drama Damages, said that when she first began starring in TV in the 1980s the broadcast networks dominated, but all that has changed.
I think with the emergence of HBO, that started to change the landscape, Close told reporters. And I think the writers on cable, more often than not, are given much more creative freedom than on networks, and that's where creative people want to go, they want to go to where they can realize their vision.
Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, another repeat winner, said his edgy role as a teacher-turned-drug dealer shows how creative TV has become.
We are in another golden age of television, he said.
Actor Rob Lowe of the ABC drama Brothers & Sisters said on the red carpet, Pound for pound, the best writing is for TV. That's why we're all gravitating towards it.
HBO is a unit of Time Warner Inc. ABC is a unit of Walt Disney Co; NBC is a unit of General Electric Co; FX and Fox are units of News Corp. CBS and Showtime are units of CBS Corp; AMC is a unit of Cablevision Systems Corp.
(Editing by Dean Goodman and Eric Beech)