We studied the content and Nielsen ratings for interviews on the three network Sunday morning talk shows—Meet the Press (henceforth MTP), Face the Nation (FTN), and This Week (TW). We compared three time periods—1983 (MTP, FTN), 1999 (all three shows), and 2015 (all three shows). In order to insure apples-to-apples comparisons, for over time comparisons, we either restricted our analyses to MTP and FTN or analyzed the data with and without TW. For “overall” snapshots we included all three shows (MTP, FTN, TW). Our goals were fourfold: (1) identify any discernable trends in the topics and types of guests featured on the Sunday talk shows, (2) identify any trends in audience ratings, (3) assess whether and to what extent trends in topics and guests correlate with audience ratings, and (4) assess whether, to what extent, and under what circumstances, the Sunday talk shows influence the subsequent news agenda.
Baum, Matthew A. "Report on Network Sunday Morning Talk Show Content and Ratings, Comparing 1983, 1999, and 2015." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP17-041, September 2017.