Comcast Cable ups Watson to CEO, moves Smit to new role of vice chairman

Also a former Charter Communications executive, Smit will focus in the next few months on helping Watson move into the new position, then “work part-time with Comcast leaders to develop future technology-oriented business opportunities,” Comcast said in a statement. 

Comcast announced a major restructuring of its cable division management, moving Neil Smit to a newly created role of Vice Chairman and replacing him with COO Dave Watson as president and CEO.

“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,” said Smit, a former member of U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, in a statement.

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The transition is effective April 1. Also a former Charter Communications executive, Smit will focus in the next few months on helping Watson move into the new position, then “work part-time with Comcast leaders to develop future technology-oriented business opportunities,” Comcast said in a statement. 

Smit will transition up and out with Comcast Cable expanding both its customer bases and revenues in recent quarters. In fact, Comcast was the only major pay-TV operator to experience significant pay-TV subscriber growth in 2016, adding around 161,000 customers. 

“Neil has been an extraordinary leader and has helped transform Comcast Cable into the top cable and broadband company in the nation,” said Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, in a statement. “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. Neil and his team have created an innovation engine at Comcast Cable, with countless new and game-changing products and businesses.

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For his part, Watson joined the cable company in 1991 and has served as its chief operating officer since 2010. 

“Dave Watson is the perfect new leader of Comcast Cable,” Roberts added. “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.”