While streaming services’ movies and TV shows get a lot of attention, one aspect isn’t talked about as much. I’m referring to streaming service profiles, plus profile avatars.
Each streaming service handles profile avatars differently, some with more creativity than others. Avatars offer a fun, creative way of highlighting a streaming service’s most popular material, as well as customize a profile. Below is a look at avatars on the major on-demand streaming services.
Netflix offers a very broad number of avatars. Along with some generic ones as defaults, Netflix usually has a range of avatars for their most popular material, as well as prominent new programs.
Netflix also allows you to edit the default kids’ profile avatar. Accordingly, the avatar options filter out the adult programs.
As of this writing, prominent programs with avatars include:
- “Squid Game”
- “Captain Underpants”
- “My Little Pony”
- “Big Mouth”
- “Boss Baby: Back in Business”
- “Queer Eye”
- “Fuller House”
- “Stranger Things”
- “Carmen Sandiego”
- “One Day at a Time”
- “Bojack Horseman”
- “The Dark Crystal”
In my case, my main profile avatar’s currently Player from “Carmen Sandiego.”
Disney+ also does a pretty good job at offering a variety of avatars. Like Netflix, they also add new ones when major new material’s added to their service. As of this writing, the most recent new avatars are for the “Jungle Cruise” and “Shang-Chi” movies.
The avatars are separated by categories, including:
- Featured (a variety of avatars from the other categories)
- Star Wars
- National Geographic
- Mickey and Friends
- Disney Classics
- Disney Princess
- Disney Channel
- The Simpsons
- The Muppets
Some of the avatars show up in multiple categories. Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” appears under the Villains and Disney Classics categories, for instance.
Some interesting choices were made for the avatar selection:
- The Simpsons category has the family itself. However, the only other characters are Ralph Wiggum, Krusty, and Dr. Hibbert. Wonder why those three and not, say, Flanders, Milhouse, or Mr. Burns?
- The Muppets category doesn’t have avatars for Rowlf or Rizzo.
- The X-Men category are all the main characters as they appear in the 90s animated series. However, given the recent news of a revival/reboot for that show, it seems appropriate.
- The Marvel category includes recent TV shows such as “Loki” and “What If?”
- The Kids category includes “PJ Masks” characters (a third-party program not owned by Disney; it’s owned by Hasbro).
- The Mickey and Friends category is a mix of versions. Mickey has his retro style from the recent animated shorts; Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto are the “default” modern styles seen on merchandise; Chip and Dale are their “Rescue Rangers” versions; Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby, Uncle Scrooge, and Launchpad are from “DuckTales” (2017); and finally, the remaining option is… José Carioca (default version), who seems kind of obscure these days.
My avatar’s currently Mike Wazowski from “Monsters, Inc.,” my favorite Pixar movie.
Peacock carries a decent range of avatars. Some of the programs with avatars include:
- “30 Rock”
- “The Office”
- A Minion from “Despicable Me”
- DreamWorks’ “Trolls”
- “Curious George”
- “Boss Baby”
- “Brooklyn Nine Nine”
- “Parks and Recreation”
- “Law & Order: SVU”
- Several WWE wrestlers
- The “Saved By the Bell” and “Punky Brewster” reboots
- Amber Ruffin
- The default avatars (a blue peacock and a green peacock)
I’m amused that one can have a profile avatar of rapper Ice-T (he plays a main character on “Law & Order: SVU”). That said, my avatar’s the T. rex from “Jurassic Park.”
Paramount+‘s range of avatars are very limited in comparison to rival services. The only options:
- SpongeBob and Patrick Star
- “Crank Yankers”
- Tommy and Susie from the original “Rugrats” series
- Aang from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and Korra from “The Legend of Korra”
- The truck Blaze from “Blaze and the Monster Machines”
- Dora the Explorer
- Peppa Pig
- The main cast of “Star Trek: Lower Decks”
- Two dogs from “Paw Patrol”
- Blue and Magenta from “Blue’s Clues”
- Several generic default blob avatars
And that’s it.
All of the choices are cartoons or puppets. While I like animation (one of my main reasons for subscribing to Paramount+), that limits options for those that don’t like or want cartoons. Given CBS/Viacom’s library, not including any live action based avatars feels very odd. Possible avatars they could’ve used: the stars of their current and classic CBS sitcoms/dramas? The CBS “eye” logo? Indiana Jones? Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible” character? The live action “Star Trek” incarnations’ casts? RuPaul? The “Sister, Sister” twins?
For that matter, the cartoon choices are also very limited. On the classic side, there’s no one from “Rocko,” “The Fairly OddParents,” or “The Angry Beavers.” (Or Mighty Mouse, in a nod to their past.) On the modern side, it’s odd not to see “The Loud House” represented, as it’s currently Nickelodeon’s most popular cartoon that isn’t “Paw Patrol” or “SpongeBob.” Also, a few of Viacom’s non-Nick cartoons could’ve been included, such as “Beavis and Butt-Head” or “Daria.”
It’s also odd that “Crank Yankers” is so heavily represented, given it’s a show that hasn’t been remotely prominent in years.
I went with SpongeBob himself as my Paramount+ avatar.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Prime Video’s avatars are all based on their original shows, including: “Invincible,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the “Coming 2 America” sequel, and “The Boys.” There’s also some generic cartoon/default avatars.
Disappointingly, there’s no avatars for any of their kids’ shows or animated series, such as the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” reboot.
Initially, I thought HBO Max didn’t offer avatars. However, it turns out they do… just not from their web site. Avatars are only available through HBO Max’s apps. Not the most user-friendly design choice.
That said, at least HBO Max offers a wide variety of profile avatars for its streaming service. Similar to Disney+, HBO Max’s avatars highlight everything available on the service, plus the Warner Bros. catalog in general. Unique for HBO Max, there’s also the option via the app to set your own custom avatar, such as your photo.
Among the more prominent avatars:
- “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
- “Game of Thrones”
- “Looney Tunes” (Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Tweety, Marvin, and Taz)
- “Tom and Jerry”
- DC Comics characters:
- Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Joker (all DCAU versions)
- Harley Quinn (from some other animated production, not her current adult-oriented series)
- The Teen Titans (2000s version)
- “The Amazing World of Gumball”
- “Adventure Time”
- “Ed, Edd and Eddy”
- “Dexter’s Laboratory”
- “The Powerpuff Girls”
- “Steven Universe”
- “Craig of the Creek”
- “Ben 10”
- Static from “Static Shock”
- “Victor and Valentino”
- “Sesame Street” (Elmo, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, and Cookie Monster)
- Studio Ghibli
HBO live-action fans will be pleased that a lot of its material with avatars available.
On the animation side, there’s a decent range of choices, highlighting the Warner cartoon library. One nitpick: the only Hanna-Barbera characters I see are Scooby-Doo… no Flintstones, Jetsons, or Yogi Bear (who’re all on HBO Max)? Again, HBO Max really needs a Boomerang category just for their older cartoons (and/or fold in or bundle the Boomerang streaming service).
Static is an unexpected choice, but a pleasant one.
Also interesting is they went with the 2000s “Teen Titans” versions, and not “Teen Titans Go,” given Cartoon Network’s heavy reliance on that show.
Other animation characters I’d include: the Flintstones (or at least Fred); the Jetsons (or at least George); Yogi Bear (the original or “Jellystone” version); Popeye (who’s also on HBO Max); the Iron Giant (who did make it into “Space Jam 2”).
Services without avatars
The streaming service Hulu doesn’t offer any profile avatars. The only customization Hulu offers is changing the name of the profile; the profile name’s first initial is used for where an avatar would appear.
I wonder if this is a consequence of Hulu’s multiple corporate property nature (and rights issues involved)? Or just something Hulu’s ignored, given even generic avatars would still be an option? Given Hulu is now controlled by Disney, perhaps in the future they’ll add avatars for some of its own shows as an option (“Bob’s Burgers?” “MODOK?”).
Apple TV+ doesn’t offer individual user profiles or avatars for their streaming service. Instead, everything’s tied to a specific cross-Apple-services user account. While Apple now offers the option for switching between user accounts, there’s no profiles or avatars. For a company that prides itself on user-friendliness, not offering user profiles (and relying on separate accounts) is a major misfire.
Photo by Mohamed Hassan. (Pixabay)