1960s ad agency show Mad Men won best drama for a fourth year running while Modern Family won five awards including best comedy at the Emmy Awards.
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner said the prize was the one "that says people love what we are doing" after the show lost out in other categories.
Mockumentary Modern Family also won two best supporting actor gongs as well as writing and directing awards.
Martin Scorsese won a best director award for drama Boardwalk Empire.
Weiner, whose New York-based show won just two awards from 19 nominations, said he was shocked it had won best drama.
"We were shut out but then we also won this award so it balances out," he said.
In the best actor in a drama category, Jon Hamm, who plays womanising advertising executive Don Draper in Mad Men, lost out to the night's surprise winner, Kyle Chandler, for Texas American Football tale Friday Night Lights.
"I knew for a fact I would not be standing here," said Chandler. "I did not write anything and now I'm starting to worry."
The prize for best drama actress went to The Good Wife's Julianna Margulies, who won a supporting actress Emmy in 1995 for ER.
Supporting actor prizes went to Peter Dinklage, for medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones, and Margo Martindale for Kentucky-set Justified.
Modern Family, which follows a series of couples and their children, won the first four awards of the night, including supporting actor awards for on-screen husband and wife Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen.
That led host Jane Lynch - Glee's Sue Sylvester - to joke: "Welcome back to the Modern Family awards."
Steve Levitan, who created the show, which was named best comedy for a second consecutive year, called the wins "an embarrassment of riches".
The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons won best comedy actor for a second year running while Melissa McCarthy, star of sitcom Mike & Molly, won the best actress award.
Briton Kate Winslet was named best actress in a mini-series for her turn as a divorced single mum who opens a restaurant business in 1930s Depression-era California in Mildred Pierce
She said she was "thrilled" and revealed she had a crush on co-star and former Neighbours actor Guy Pearce "since I was 11-year-old so just to stand in the same room as him was really thrilling for me".
Pearce also picked up best supporting for Mildred Pierce.
Best actor in a mini-series went to Barry Pepper for his performance as Robert F Kennedy in The Kennedys.
British programme Downton Abbey, meanwhile, took four prizes including best mini-series and best supporting actress, for Dame Maggie Smith.