When the CFL was on Sundays, the NFL may have had higher ratings but the CFL had ratings higher than they do now. CFL ratings do not appear to be affected by NCAA games. NFL ratings on Sundays have also been helped in some part by TSN and the CFL by moving away from and surrendering Sunday. Also, I believe its had a negative impact on the Grey cup and playoffs as fence sitters are now used to only NFL on Sundays.
Traditionally, ratings and attendance were better in the fall, then the summer. So moving more games into a zone that historically was the weak part of the season predictably would provide lower numbers.
Plus, Hockey is still king in Canada. Even if a Canadian team is not in the final, the amount of time and space it gets from all the sports media, still will put a huge shadow over the CFL.
It seems every change for the better the CFL has done in the last couple of decades and step forward has caused the reverse to happen.
As for earlier due to weather. Weather is changing. I have lived on the prairies my whole life, and harsh locked in Winter is starting later. In the last 8 years, being back in Sask, I think I dealt with winter setting in prior to mid December one time. Yes there may have been some snow, some cold days but nothing like you see in January and February. In that same time frame there was a September that had colder weather than October, November.
For the playoffs, November is the best timing the CFL can have. The NFL, NHL and NBA are well into their seasons. MLB is wrapped up. Other than MLS no one else is in the vital end of season mode and that doesn't affect CFL ratings.
Mix up the schedule so in the first 8 games, you play every team once.
Take where the team is (rebuild, playoff ready, etc.) into consideration when building the schedule. You are not doing teams like Ottawa any favours having a rebuilding team play the strongest team in the league back to back to start the year.
Doesn't help ticket sales either....
With the exception of a couple blowouts most games have come down to the wire though too. A total margin of victory of 19 points across four games and victories in the dying moments in three of four....
Some strategies are odd though. Elks playing their biggest rivals twice in the first five games did nothing for ticket sales though and may have limited ticket sales for the Labour Day games, which are usually the best ticket sale games of the year.
I just have to think back to backs are a pain for coaches though too. Two different game plans on back to back weeks plus adjustments, gotta be way more work than different opponents.