A 6-year-old TV academy rules change allows online entries to compete with cable and broadcast programs, although so far Internet shows have popped up only in lower-profile categories. That changed with the 65th Primetime Emmys.
"It certainly is a marker of the new era. ... It will send shock waves through the industry," said Tim Brooks, a TV historian and former network executive, predicted on the eve of the nominations.
They were announced by Aaron Paul, a previous winner for "Breaking Bad" and nominated again this year, and, in a surprise, Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris. He filled in "House of Cards" actress Kate Mara, kept in Santa Fe, N.M., by a plane's mechanical malfunction.
Patrick, an in-demand emcee, earned his own bid for hosting this year's Broadway's Tony Awards.
Joining Spacey in the contest for best drama series actor are Hugh Bonneville of "Downton Abbey"; Jon Hamm of "Mad Men"; Jeff Daniels of "The Newsroom" and Damian Lewis of "Homeland," last year's winner.
Kevin Bacon, one of the big-screen stars trying their hand at TV, was not recognized in the category for "The Following."
Actresses nominated for their drama series work besides Wright include Vera Farmiga of "Bates Hotel"; Michelle Dockery of "Downtown Abbey"; Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men"; Connie Britton of "Nashville"; Kerry Washington of "Scandal"; and last year's winner, Claire Danes from "Homeland."
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony will air Sept. 22 on CBS.