HBO's “Game of Thrones” has such a strong social following it is immune to piracy, says director David Petarca. The show's success rests on fans talking about it, not just ratings, he says.

“Game of Thrones” is a cultural phenomenon, garnering big numbers for HBO that are rivaled only by the number of people that discuss the show as each episode airs. With its fantasy backdrop, dragons, warring families and plenty of scandal and secrets, “Game of Thrones” has become a crossover hit and George R. R. Martin’s novels have also found new success.

In the first two seasons, “Game of Thrones” has offered plenty of surprises and shocking conclusions to beloved characters, and readers of the books know there are more twists yet to be filmed. With the third season to premiere March 31, interest is rising and HBO is slowly teasing fans with glimpses of what to expect.

With the popularity of “Game of Thrones,” it’s no surprise that it’s among the most pirated television programs. In fact, according to TorrentFreak, “Game of Thrones” was the most pirated television show in 2012 with more than 4 million downloads of each episode. According to Los Angeles Times, the second season finale was seen by 4.2 million viewers,  close to 1 million watched the replay and several million later watched the program via DVR or HBO Go.

The massive number of downloads is less of a threat to premium cable shows like “Game of Thrones” or “True Blood” because HBO does not need to rely on viewership to get advertisers. HBO can sell the show in other ways, including DVD and Blu-Ray sales, and gets its money from subscriptions.

Petarca spoke at Perth's Writers Festival at the University of Western Australia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Asked about the effect of piracy on “Game of Thrones,” he said it was negligible and it’s all about “cultural buzz.” The more people talking about HBO’s programming means more potential customers and new subscribers. 

With the season three premiere of “Game of Thrones” set to hit on March 31, expect record ratings as well as record number of downloads across file sharing sites. You can watch the recently released "Game of Thrones" season three trailer below.