Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, in Tokyo. Hulu will be pitching original programming at upfronts this year. - 

Stacey Vanek Smith:You probably think of Hulu as a website where people go to watch TV shows online. But now, Hulu's making its own shows and looking for advertisers.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports.

Eve Troeh: Years ago, Netflix started buying films at Sundance.

Chris Null: Doing an end run around the Hollywood studios.

And made the first digital power play against the media giants, says tech writer Chris Null. The power struggle's grown as online viewing’s evolved beyond old movies and reruns.

Null: By and large, the stuff that's being watched is new stuff.

Digital distributors want to say to the big guys: If you won't give us your newest, best stuff, well...

"Lilyhammer" clip: I got some demands. I'm thinking Lilyhammer.

We’ll buy -- or make -- our own. Like the Netflix-only show "Lilyhammer," about a New York gangster in Norway.

Andrew Lipsman at digital media firm comScore says the underdogs are banking that "content is king.”

Andrew Lipsman: To the extent that Hulu and Netflix can generate new hits and bring new subscribers into the fold, I think it could potentially be very valuable.

Key word there: "hits." The shows have to be good enough for people to keep their Hulu and Netflix accounts, because that’s where the good stuff is.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

Follow Eve Troeh at @evetroeh