Comcast just announced a big change at its cable operation, the nation’s largest: Beginning April 1, Dave Watson will move to CEO from COO of Comcast Cable, replacing Neil Smit who becomes the parent company’s Vice Chairman.

Watson has been with the company since 1991 and led product, sales, marketing, and advertising initiatives. He also helped to drive the transition from analog to IPTV, and the development of Comcast’s broadband service.

“There are few people in the cable industry who have [Watson’s] breadth and depth of experience,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says. Watson and Smit and their colleagues “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.”

Smit, a former member of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six, worked at Charter, AOL, and Nabisco before joining Comcast in 2010.

Smit says that as he approaches age 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.”

Roberts calls Smit “one of the finest individuals with whom I have had the privilege to work.”