Comcast Corp. said Monday that Dave Watson will become president and CEO of Comcast Cable as Neil Smit moves into a new part-time role as vice chairman of Comcast Corp., effective April 1.
"For the next few months, Smit will work closely with Watson to ensure a smooth leadership transition," the cable giant, which also owns NBCUniversal, said. "Smit will then work part-time with Comcast leaders to develop future technology-oriented business opportunities."
Watson will report to Comcast Corp. chairman and CEO Brian Roberts. NBCUniversal is led by CEO Steve Burke.
Smit has been the CEO of Comcast Cable since Dec. 2011 and has been credited with helping the cable giant return to pay TV subscribers growth last year. Prior to joining Comcast, Smit spent decades in senior executive positions at Charter, AOL and Nabisco. Before his career in corporate America, Smit was a Navy SEAL, serving as a member of SEAL Team Six.
"As I approach 60, and for reasons related to the injuries I sustained in my previous career, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family while also helping Comcast find new growth opportunities," Smit said.
"Neil has been an extraordinary leader and has helped transform Comcast Cable into the top cable and broadband company in the nation," Roberts said. "He is not only an exceptional executive, but he is also one of the finest individuals with whom I have had the privilege to work."
Watson joined Comcast in 1991 and has served as the COO of Comcast Cable since 2010 and has partnered with him in running the cable division since Smit's arrival at the company. He has held various senior roles within Comcast, including leadership of the product, sales, marketing and advertising functions.
"Dave Watson is the perfect new leader of Comcast Cable," said Roberts. "There are few people in the cable industry who have his breadth and depth of experience. Dave, along with Neil and the executive teams across the cable division, drove the operating strategy and execution that have led to phenomenal growth over the last several years as well as our focus on the customer experience and the improvements we have made recently. Dave knows the business and has a track record of delivering results."
Watson himself said: "It is an honor to take the reins from Neil. I can't thank him enough for his partnership during the last seven years. Neil has taught us all lessons in leadership, team building, focus, and execution. He challenged us to reinvent the television experience; to grow video customers; to make Comcast video positive; to invest in our plant; to grow broadband customers; and, to build business services essentially from scratch. And, he succeeded on all fronts."